is a French-made “The Advent Calendar” model of one of the crucial time-honored tropes in all of horror fiction—the be-careful-what-you-wish-for narrative through which a personality is given the flexibility, often via some form of talisman, to make their deepest needs and wishes come true, solely to find too late that there is a horrible worth to pay in return. This gadget has been utilized in all the pieces from the immortal W.W. Jacobs brief story The Monkey’s Paw to Richard Kelly’s defiantly unusual adaptation of Richard Matheson’s story “The Box” to the latest “Wish Upon.” Nonetheless, most viewers will discover themselves wishing that author/director Patrick Ridremont had provide you with a number of variations on this customary theme to be able to brighten up this competently executed however painfully acquainted style train.
Eva (Eugenie Derouand) is a former dancer who’s now in a wheelchair after being paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident a number of years earlier. Lamenting the lack of what she as soon as had and caught in a dead-end job at a sleazy insurance coverage agency whereas watching her father additional succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, Eva is firmly within the dumps as the vacation season begins when her brassy buddy Sophie (Honorine Magnier) blows in from Germany with a birthday reward she acquired at a Christmas market in Munich—an ornate vintage creation calendar that incorporates a chunk of sweet (amongst different issues) behind every one of the 24 doorways. It additionally incorporates some guidelines which might be stern even by German requirements and which culminate with the order “Dump it and I’ll kill you.”
Regardless of that, Eva begins consuming the sweet, and unusual issues start to occur to her. One of many candies was her father’s favorite and as quickly as she eats it, she receives a surprising name from her now-lucid father that so delights her that she barely registers that the cellphone she spoke to him on was disconnected. One other one bears a coronary heart on its wrapper and he or she makes use of it to draw the lovable man on the park that she has been crushing on. Issues take a darker flip when her canine chews up a toy automobile that emerged from one of many doorways and a sleaze that attempted to sexually assault Eva dies in a weird automobile accident. Different individuals around Eva start to fulfill related grisly fates—some extra deserving of them than others—however even when she figures out that there’s a connection between the calendar and the deaths, she is reluctant to cease doing it, principally due to her perception that if she continues on with it, the payoff after the ultimate door will probably be that she regains the flexibility to stroll and dance.
That form of highly effective inspiration is definitely sufficient to spur Eva on throughout “The Advent Calendar” however Ridremont’s story lacks the same sense of motivation. Though Eva is definitely sympathetic sufficient on the floor, the movie by no means fairly manages to determine both her character or her profound sense of loss over being robbed of her potential to bop and the result’s a simple lack of real emotional effect that the story may need in any other case maintained. As a substitute, it is extra focused on jam-packing the narrative with principally loathsome peripheral characters for no different cause than to have loads of potential victims for the following demise scenes. The opposite drawback is that because the creation calendar conceit all however requires that the story not conclude till December 24, a narrative that may have been simpler as a one-hour episode from a collection like “Creepshow” or “Black Mirror” clocks in at almost double that size and grows considerably repetitive because of this.
Derouand is undeniably attention-grabbing within the position of Eva, however not even her efforts can rescue “The Advent Calendar” from being a narrative that goes on too lengthy earlier than arriving at a climax that is a form of a large number. It doesn’t even make the most of the vacation season setting in a very significant means, which is odd since one can definitely detect two of probably the most well-known Christmas narratives—“A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Fantastic Life”—in its inventive DNA. However the movie isn’t horrible, I suppose, and somebody in search of an offbeat Yuletide shocker to have on within the background whereas wrapping presents may definitely do worse than this.