Advent calendars usually offer fun surprises, but paraplegic former dancer Eva finds dark magic behind the doors of the antique wooden version she’s handed as a gift.
The day-by-day journey she’s in for in this French offering—originally Le Calendrier, packaged as a Shudder original—is an engaging, if not perfect, excursion.
Eva (Eugénie Derouand) has problems far beyond her paralysis. Her father suffers from Alzheimer’s. His current wife is indifferent and unpleasant.
Eva works an office job with a slimy boss who was just brought on and is favoring a beautiful new employee, and Eva is resigned to guys being turned off by her condition. To make everything worse, she has a December Birthday! At least it falls earlier in the month. Considerately, her friend Sophie remembers it (Because: Reasons). She delivers the titular item, which she obtained at a holiday market in Germany.
Since a few days in December have already elapsed, Eva opens a couple of calendar doors on the first night. Those produce candy and trinkets. Would you eat the candy stowed in an antique advent calendar from a mysterious flea market? Hmmmmm.
This one has warnings from a pronoun-dubbed figure, Ich. Don’t open every door? That’s death. Dump the whole thing? That’s death.
Eva pops the first piece with little hesitation. Soon, she mysteriously gets a call on a dead landline from her dad in spite of his catatonic state.
Subsequent days offer additional benefits and surprises for Eva and her doggie pal Marvin, and peril to molesting dates and others who dis her.
Some of it is familiar territory, but it’s fresh enough to make this an okay watch. Don’t expect subtle character textures nor intense scares or even a lot of creepy shudders, but take the journey.
The sometimes surreal manifestation of the calendar’s magic offers some interesting twists, and some gradual revelations of Eva’s back story provide some eye-opening aha moments.
Mild spoiler warning here, but the eventual personification of the calendar is visually intriguing but not used to full effect.
Don’t open The Advent Calendar with overly high expectations, but if you need a break from Hallmark Christmas movies, this is it.