The Advent Calendar
the advent calendar | patrick ridremont | eugenie derouand | honorine magnir | clement olivieri | curse | demon | christmas | thriller | france | belgium | janis abrikh | cyril garnier | vladimir perrin | fabien jegoudez | jerome paquatte | laura presgurvic
Film: The Advent Calendar (Le calendrier)
Director: Patrick Ridremont
Writer: Patrick Ridremont
Stars: Eugénie Derouand, Honorine Magnier and Clément Olivieri
This is a movie that popped up to me via social media thanks to Shudder. I saw that it seemed to be enjoyed overall and I figured that I would watch it on Christmas day. I’ll admit, it had an interesting concept with an advent calendar being used in a horror movie so I was curious what they would do with it. The synopsis here is Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is a paraplegic. On her birthday, her friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier) gives her a strange advent calendar. It’s not the traditional treats you find when you open each drawer, but quirky gifts that are scary and get bloodier.
For this movie, we start meeting our main character of Eva. She is swimming at a public pool and Antoine (Janis Abrikh) hits on her. Eva is quite attractive, but we see that she is jaded. She slowly reveals to Antoine that she is paralyzed from the waist down. He seems a bit shocked but does try to help her back to her chair. As this movie goes on, we learn more about her. She was a professional ballet dancer and had been doing this her whole life until the accident that left her in this condition. It is understandable why she is as bitter as she is.
Eva’s currently plight isn’t ideal. She works in insurance and her boss isn’t happy about the policies being used by her clients. It is causing them to lose money. He is looking to let her go if things don’t get better. At home she lives with her dog. Things do look up when her best friend of Sophie comes to visit for her birthday. Eva was down as her father has Alzheimer’s and according to his wife, he doesn’t remember her.
Sophie has brought an odd gift. She lives in Germany and she stole an odd advent calendar. It is an old box. There are numbered doors. There also seems to be some internal mechanisms that cause this creepy picture to pop up when it is midnight and the next door can be opened. This calendar also comes with rules. The first one is that if you eat the first treat, you must eat them all. You must follow all the rules until every door is open is the second and the final rule is that if you dump it, you will die. This is the same fate if you break any of these rules. Eva decides to partake, opening he first three doors. She eats the first piece, the second is her father’s favorite candy and the last is a card with Jesus fighting a demon. The fourth door won’t open. Eva thinks it is jammed. Since it is old, she assumes it won’t work. Come midnight, it opens though.
What is behind door four is odd. It states, ‘Jesus said to the cripple, arise and walk’. The candy is in the form of baby Jesus. She is freaked out a bit by it. She doesn’t eat it immediately. She is mystified as well in that she ate the piece that her father loved and he called her on a phone that is out of service. He also remembered her.
As Eva opens more doors, things her in life changes. She meets William (Clément Olivieri) who seems to fall in love with her. Bad things happen to those who wrong her. Eva believes this calendar will give her back the ability to walk, but how far will she go for that back?
That is where I’ll leave my recap for this movie. Where I want to start is with the concept here. Now I’ll admit, I didn’t know what an advent calendar was growing up. I’m sure I had seen them in movies, but we never had one. I like the idea of taking something like this and doing some dark with it. It is using the idea of a children’s item where it is normally candy or chocolate, helping them keep track of the days and doing something in order. This movie is using this idea, expanding on it and as tensions rise, it escalates how things go. I can work with this for sure.
This isn’t a new concept though. It is taking an idea with this cursed object and once you use it, you must see it through or face the consequences. The form it is taking is just something that is new. What I like here though is how it sucks Eva in. She wants to talk to her dad, so that is one way it entices her. She has a run in with Boris (Cyril Garnier) and he is punished for what he did. It even gives her things and takes them away as well. I should point out that early on, we know it is a demon of some kind. It does look like it could fit in with the Hellraiser universe. It also goes by the name ‘Ich’, which I did know from German to mean ‘I’. I bring this up, so we know that it isn’t a good force and she’s been enticed. How it progresses is good for me. It escalates, but I don’t think it jumps too far ahead for that. It is only when she believes and wants the ultimate prize that is does some horrible things for it. It punishes those around her is an interesting idea as well, especially with how close she is to some of them.
Not everything works for me. The first rule is that all the candies must be eaten. It does get around this that others eat some of them. She ate the first one, so it is surrounding her. I can work with that, even though technically it should be her eating all the items. There is a toy car from one. A card in another and even a doll. I understand why the movie uses some of these. It doesn’t ruin things, but it does feel a bit of a cheat to me for how the rules are set up. It feels like these items could be candy or chocolate to still give us the desired effect. It just feels like a plot-hole to me. The rules are a bit vague as well which comes into question later in the movie and I do like that. It makes you wonder if what is done works or not.
Moving away from the story, I will take this to the acting. Derouand is good as our lead. I’m assuming that she is not actually paraplegic. I think what they do with effects was good to make her legs look like they have atrophy. She does well at being someone who is bitter about her plight. Her progression as a character to being more ruthless for what she wants is good. This is a character study of her. Magnier is her best friend, but she is bad person. She does do good things for her friend, but she is also selfish. I thought she worked for Sophie. I like Olivieri, Abrikh, Garnier, Vladimir Perrin, Jérôme Paquatte, Isabelle Tanakil and Jean-François Garreaud are all good in being different people to Eva and push her to where she ends up.
Then I should go to the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, I thought they were good. The movie went mostly practical from everything that I could see. They don’t use a lot of them from what I could tell. The blood has good color and consistency. The bit of gore we get was also solid. The cinematography was good. There are some disorienting shots that are used. We are getting a supernatural element here, so Eva is one place and ends up in others without knowing it. I do like that aspect of the movie. We aren’t getting dreams, but more fuzzy focus and not remembering things. Then finally we have the soundtrack. I thought that it worked for what was needed. The sound design also works here which helps with the atmosphere.
So then in conclusion, this is an interesting Christmas horror movie. Outside of the calendar, we aren’t getting a lot of those elements, but I’m wondering if part of that it is being from France and Belgium. Watching this as an American could be why. Regardless, I like this cursed object and the entity behind it. We don’t learn a lot about it, but we don’t necessarily need to either. We get an interesting ending with it. The acting from Derouand was good as our lead. I think the rest of the cast pushes her to where she ends up. The effects and cinematography were good to me. I also thought that the soundtrack and design helped build the atmosphere. For me, this is an above average movie that is just missing out on being good. I would revisit this one for sure.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10