Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 06/12/2021

THE ADVENT CALENDAR

A bit of festive fun becomes a Noel nightmare when Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is gifted an antique wooden advent calendar by a friend. Opening up and munching her way through the chocolates inside, Eva finds her greatest wishes coming true. Her dementia-stricken dad manages a telephone call on her birthday; the hunky nurse in the park strikes up conversation; most impressively, one chocolate even helps the paraplegic to walk for short periods.

But, as any Twilight Zone fan will tell you, such gifts always come at a hefty price. In Eva’s case, it’s a set of terms and conditions that really should have been heeded – reminiscent of the video from The Ring. Don’t eat all the chocs? You die. Try to throw the advent calendar away? You die. Don’t follow the instructions inside? Yep, you guessed it. All of which spells a miserable Christmas for Eva’s friends and family, her dog and her boyfriend, and, of course, Eva herself.

Bursts of extreme silliness punctuate this bleak, unsettling horror story, Eva’s journey becoming more ludicrous with each revelation. As the calendar doors continue to open, so the stakes are raised, and Eva’s festive gifts come at a greater price each time. Writer and director Patrick Ridremont’s pacing is a little off, but he has a good eye and ear for the nightmarish. Between the monstrous demon and the film’s nastier moments of splatter, this advent calendar has plenty of grisly goodies hiding behind its doors.

The story is too familiar to be truly shocking, but there are plenty of surprises in store, even as the inexpensive, mildly same-y taste of advent calendar chocolate (you know the type) begins to lose its novelty.