Now that the holidays are upon us, there are many symbols to celebrate the holidays. The menorah for Hanukkah, The kinara for Kwanzaa, and a decorated tree for Christmas. One of these symbols that makes you get ready for Christmas is the Advent Calendar that provides treats for each day in December up until Christmas day. As you open each box of each day, a new surprise awaits you, creating more and more anticipation for this winter holiday.
The Advent Calendar, a ghoulish gift from Belgium given to us by Sombrero Film and distributed by Shudder, provides a creepy treat as it gives the advent calendar an insane interpretation.
Eva (Eugénie Derouand) who is a paraplegic, a subject of people’s scrutiny and insults, is given a gift of a large, wooden, antique advent calendar by her best friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier). This old German calendar sports a creepy looking character named Ich who pops up at the top of the wooden frame. Ich sets out a guideline of rules that must be followed to the letter or the disobedient person will die. Eva obeys the rules that are set out as some of the people that are in her life meet their demise in strange and mysterious ways. Eva discovers that their deaths are sacrifices to the advent calendar as Eva must choose to either disobey the rules and become a sacrifice herself or to continue playing the deadly game which will reward her with the ultimate prize: The ability to walk again.
Written and directed by Patrick Ridremont, this horror/thriller provides a wonderful protagonist who wants to be whole and is willing to do whatever it takes to become so. Ridremont also slashes and stabs at society’s obsession with perfection and the unfair stigma placed upon a person’s physical challenges.
The dark interiors within Eva’s apartment enhance the sinister dread that encapsulates the pandora’s box or, more appropriately several boxes of the ancient advent calendar. This story is a strong one with many trippy and terrifying elements that are no less than engaging. The one and only issue is the portrayal of Ich in earthbound form as its features resemble that of a low-rent Hellraiser cenobite. If Ich looked more like the pop-up one from the calendar, it would be more effective.
Eugénie Derouand is exceptional in her role as Eva. Her anger and resentment of how she is treated not only with her disability, but as a woman, looking to regain her dignity and respect. She is an attractive but complex character that has a restrained sense of herself, never knowing what she is thinking. When that restraint becomes shattered, it has the feel of a time bomb, never knowing when it will explode and, when it does, it detonates with tension and dread.
Honorine Magnier is terrific as the bubbly and carefree Sophie. Sophie’s extroverted and trusting demeanor is the perfect counterpoint to Eva’s introverted and guarded persona. Magnier provides wonderful dimensions of Sophie’s outgoing personality along with the fuzziness of Sophie’s relationship with Eva, not knowing if it is shallow pity or extreme guilt as she hides a dark secret within her.
This could be one of these movies that could be added to your traditional Christmas horror list that can be viewed every holiday season. I, for one, have never been gifted an advent calendar and, upon watching this terror-filled treat, would be reluctant to accept.
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