December 6, 2021 The Advent Calendar (Movie Review)
Tis the season to be horrified. Christmas is coming super early for Horror fans this year, in the form of a well-crafted French Horror movie called The Advent Calendar (Lé Calendrier), which premiered in the US, Thursday, December 2nd, 2021, exclusively through Shudder. And while most “typical” advent calendars are joyous, and sometimes comical, this movie will introduce audiences to a new, more unique (and very scary) version of such a beloved past time.
After someone brave enough presses the “play” option, The Advent Calendar will unfold, telling the story of an ex-dancer named Eva (Eugénie Derouand: Bula 2020, Lucky 2020), who is paralyzed from the waist down, lives on her own, and works for an insurance company. It is also Eva’s birthday, for which she receives an ominous-looking wooden box as a gift from her best friend, who then tells Eva the wooden box is an advent calendar from Germany. But with each calendar door Eva opens, the closer she gets to the end of the month—which is not a good thing. There are some (seemingly) simple rules to follow with this particular advent calendar: “If you eat one candy, you have to eat them all,” followed by another warning that, if said rules are not followed, the person in possession of the calendar will be killed. What a treat!
Writer/Director Patrick Ridremont (Dead Man Talking 2012, Unit 42: TV series 2019) proves to be a master movie-maker with The Advent Calendar, in how he never dumbs down any aspect related to the film, and how he keeps the movie from ever falling flat on its “reel” throughout its many acts. Ridremont constantly keeps the suspense turned up to level 11, scaring audiences lifeless in the process, even while things on-screen are outrageously funny. Ridremont also achieves extra-credit success for his unique way of blending Horror, Dark Humor, and Suspense with just the right amount of Drama. He even challenges the audience not to cry during a couple of well-executed tearjerker scenes.
One of the amazing aspects of The Advent Calendar is the way in which Editor Thierry Delvigne (Dead Man Talking 2012, Hurricane 2015) had perfectly edited each scene to help keep the movie alive. Delvigne even manages to tell the whole life-story of Eva—past, and present!—in the matter of two minutes, while also allowing the movie to breathe throughout its running-time without compromising exposition, and without haste. Each scene that passes, the next one becomes a perfect continuation, which makes for a true work of art.
The set-designs, the lighting, and the cinematography are key factors of what also makes The Advent Calendar so very scary-good, and even prove to be the heartbeat of the movie. An early scene introducing the evil dweller of the advent calendar is well worth the ticket price, alone: a scene begging to be heard through a pair of great-sounding headphones for the person wanting to hear the eerie sounds of a deep, dark hell. The imagination that went into the sound effects, and the camerawork, and the clever way the date of the month shows up in each scene will prove The Advent Calendar an absolute knock-out to experience.
Furthermore, Derouand (Bula 2021, Lucky 2021) skillfully personifies her Eva character, who, on-screen, has to endure multiple reactions to the many horrors throughout the movie. Derouand’s acting chops will nonetheless impress the audience, as each member will feel her heartache, her internal torture, and even a spat of love through the eyes of a fantastic actress. One particular scene showing Eva in an SUV trying to decide whether or not to eat a piece of candy is so effective, so on-point, and so downright scary, the imagery and happening will forever burn itself into the mind and remain there, forever. Derouand has an Oscar coming her way with her performance in The Advent Calendar.
Santa Claus proves to be real because everyone responsible for making The Advent Calendar just secretly gifted many Horror fans the gift that keeps on giving. For an amazingly, well-rounded, genuinely great movie, Cryptic Rock proudly gives The Advent Calendar 5 out of 5 stars. Happy Horror Days!