The Advent Calendar (Le Calendrier)
The month of December obviously carries many different traditions to different cultures around the world; from decorating Christmas trees and your house to mistletoes and music, everybody seems to have at least one tradition they celebrate in December, regardless of which holidays they may celebrate. And many of these traditions have been focused on or at least featured in horror flicks over the years, but one that hasn't nearly had as much attention as it should is the advent calendar, which got its beginnings in the early 20th century in Germany. So it's fitting that the gorgeous, wooden one featured in THE ADVENT CALENDAR - written and directed by Patrick Ridremont - is purchased in a German holiday fair and gifted to the main character of the film for her birthday. And as she begins to open each locked door with the included key, she accepts the admittedly bizarre set of rules that comes with the chest. But what she doesn't know is the fucking rollercoaster these daily chocolates are about to send her on, and the insane 25 days that are about to follow. The film has a very minimal cast and only a handful of locations it features, but it's one of those films that simply doesn't need anything extra to unravel it's incredible and mindfucky Christmas tale. I went into the film totally blind, not knowing what to expect and all I gotta say is: be careful what you wish for, and don't pass on the opportunity to watch The Advent Calendar before the holiday season ends!
Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is a paraplegic who once had a golden future before her as a dancer, until an awful accident took the feeling in the lower part of her body away. Fast forward a bit and her best friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier) gifts her a vintage, wooden advent calendar that she gets from a German holiday fair for her birthday. Before consuming any of the chocolate inside, Eva is warned about the strange rules laid out on the advent calendar, that basically say she must fully commit to consuming each day's chocolate or she will be killed by someone named "Ich." Without giving it much thought, she throws down the chocolate and before long, she is fully invested in the creepy advent calendar and the strange, unsettling path that each day's confection brings. Each day is different - sometimes granting her wishes, sometimes taking things she loves away - but she must remain fully committed to letting all 25 calendar days play out accordingly or the killer in the dark will consume her. Will Eva allow the wooden calendar to take away everything she loves to grant her own desires true? Or can she not bare to hurt the ones she loves, and choose to remain bound to her wheelchair forever? Find out in... THE ADVENT CALENDAR!
As 2021 comes to an end with only a few days remaining, looking back we've seen a handful of really creative and unique horror films that really stepped outside the norm of the genre. And in these final days of the year, this film really blew me away in every possible way; from the twists and turns of the story to the phenomenal performances by the cast to the unbelievable eeriness of both the calendar its self and the "demon" who haunts it, The Advent Calendar literally checks every single box off the checklist of what makes a fantastic, unsettling horror film. The movie has this tone that it kinda sets early on and never really lets go, and it really does help set the tone of dread that the movie carries on as the story progresses. As Eva continues to open each little door to unveil the day's mindfuck, you can physically feel the sense of pure fucking dread that begins to overcome her by the end of the calendar. She's smart, and starts putting together the pieces of what might be going on the last few weeks, and it begins to completely overtake her every thought and movement. She's granted wishes - wishes that could change her life forever - but they come at a price, and it feels like you can see that ripping her mental health apart with each passing day. Eugénie Derouand is an absolute star in this film and really does this unbelievable job at showing - not saying - the breakdown of her mental state with each stroke of midnight. At first it's fun and games for her, until the hidden hauntings of the calendar begin to come out with each chocolate piece and it physically eats away at her character, and her facial expressions tell a million and a half words. Casting her was a totally brilliant choice because the final product turned out to be incredible. The winding roads her character goes down over the course of 25 days would mentally destroy anybody, and Derouand has an intense presence in every single scene; I loved it.
The writing of this film had to be a pretty big undertaking, because you are essentially writing a sub-plot for every day of the advent calendar: 25 days. Each little door that opens has its own storyline and events that go around it, and putting them all together and having them all tie-in together had to be a pretty wild time for the writer and director Ridremont. But it executes so fucking well, with each day being a different blessing or curse - not just for Eva, but for her loves ones as well. The calendar affects everyone in Eva's life and the tie-ins and twists and turns do a significant job at establishing this rollercoaster for both the audience and the main character, who you'll no doubt gain an emotional attachment to. The whole film comes together so undeniably good and leaves you so on edge that it simply has to be added to everyone's annual Xmas horror list. If you appreciate modern horror that isn't so much about jump scares or special effects and more about mind-bending stories that will leave you uncomfortable until the credits roll, The Advent Calendar is absolutely essential viewing for this time of the year. The films suspense, horror, and mystery will leave audiences desperate to see what tomorrow's little Christmas treat brings; find out for yourself by definitely checking out this movie while you can!!!