Horror Movie Review: The Advent Calendar (2021)

Written and directed by Patrick Ridremont, The Advent Calendar is a ‘festive’ horror movie that starts off strongly, but slowly loses its way across its unnecessarily long 101-minute runtime. It’s a real shame because there’s so much to like about it.

Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is a paraplegic. Having been a successful dancer before, a car accident resulted in permanent spinal injuries. She has struggled to adapt, and people treat her with pity, disgust and annoyance. Yet, she has hardened up and is making the best of things even as she can only watch on as her father loses his battle with Alezimers and her stepmother gleefully awaits his death.

As Christmas nears, she gets a visit from her best friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier) who gifts her a wooden antique advent calendar that she bought in a German Christmas market. One that comes with dark warnings should you start to open the windows. Once you’ve started, there is no stopping. Not without severe repercussions. This advent calendar has gifts to offer, life-changing gifts, but not all of them are good, and they all come with a price.

The basic outline of The Advent Calendar is promising, and for a while, it seems like it knows what it is doing. However, as the movie goes on, it gets confused with its own rules and starts to make little sense. What is an initially gripping horror that features a lot of tension, and with a likeable lead character, becomes a lesson in frustration and disappointment. Where sympathy evaporates for Eva and the elements of the time of year become inconsequential.

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A malevolent demon inhabiting an antique advent calendar should not be this complicated. A movie that is 101 minutes long should not be this disjointed. If you’re going to set out a load of rules about the thing the movie is based around, you must stick to them. Otherwise all other elements fall apart. Which is exactly what happens here. Leading to an ending that is laughably poor and makes the whole experience feel irrelevant.

All of that being said, there are positives. It is a tense experience, the sense of malevolent evil hangs over things constantly and the grey, miserable visuals are a good reflection of the mindset of Eva.

Speaking of… the acting is great, especially from Eugénie Derouand, who adds so much realism to being a paraplegic, you might wonder if she actually is. Her relationships, in particular her friendship with Sophie (who was the driver on the night of the crash) and her father are often some of the more watchable moments of the film. Even if the runtime could have been used to flesh things out a bit more.

The demonic entity and the advent calendar itself looks good and there is always a momentary drawing of the breath as the next window is opened.

A lot of positives that can’t outweigh the negatives though. It speaks volumes that most would be able to write a simpler and more effective tale in their heads as they try to work out just what rules The Advent Calendar is actually playing with. A disappointing experience overall that barely feels festive and promised way more than it could actually deliver.




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  • Carl Fisher

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The Advent Calendar (2021)
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