The Advent Calendar serves up a bloody Faustian tale… for Christmas
"Sounds grim. Well, Germans are grim."
Combining Faustian themes with European folklore, writer/director Patrick Ridremont’s French horror film The Advent Calendar brings a gruesome morality play to the Christmas holiday. And we’re always here for more Christmas horror—perhaps the most underutilized sub-genre.
Eva (Eugénie Derouand), an ex-dancer, has been a paraplegic for the last three years. Her boss sucks, her dad has Alzheimer’s, and the men she’s meeting are not exactly gentlemen.
When her friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier) gives her an old wooden antique advent calendar before Christmas, she realizes each window contains a surprise that triggers repercussions in real life. Each day is met with a different piece of candy with magical powers. If she doesn’t eat every piece of candy, she’ll die.
Some of these real-world adjustments are good, but most of them are not good. Very, very much not good. Now Eva will have to choose between getting rid of the calendar or walking again—even if it causes death and destruction to everyone she holds dear around her.
The Advent Calendar does a terrific job of pacing out its weeks-long opening of Pandora’s literal box. Eva’s descent into the darkness is matched equally by just how many odd, creative twists a simple piece of German furniture can incite.
Early on, one of the first bad(?) events set an unexpected tone for just how wide-ranging these fates will become. It’s very soon into the film, but a finance bro gets crushed to death by a dog eating a toy car. I, too, made the sound in my head that you just made in yours. There’s something a bit rarefied these days about a Nightmare on Elm Street level of cartoonish, dream-logic deaths. Not that the other dates on the calendar all maintain this—we certainly fluctuate into the bleak, the very bleak, and the full-on creature feature.
Ridremont’s film derives power from the sheer spin-the-wheel nature of where it will take us next. Also a tip of the hat to Derouand, who gives Eva some of the best intense eye-acting you’ll catch in a horror film this year.
A delightful winter romp. Fun for the whole family.
[Do not show this to your family or anyone else’s. Watch this locked alone in a bedroom. Please.]
The Advent Calendar is now available on Shudder and other streaming services.