Eva (Eugénie Derouand) has been a paraplegic since a tragic accident three years ago. Currently, Eva enjoys swimming as a hobby and gets by financially working for an insurance company. When Eva’s birthday comes around close to Christmas time, it seems she will be spending the evening on her own until she is greeted with a surprise visit from one of her close friends, bringing her birthday cake, a bottle of champagne and a gift, unlike anything Eva has ever seen before.
For her birthday, Eva receives a strange wooden box which is, in fact, an advent calendar. The calendar includes a key that allows you to unlock each day as it occurs. By unlocking the right day, Eva receives a small gift that includes chocolate and a riddle. The calendar also comes with a set of rules that Eva and her friend don’t think much of at first. One of the rules states that Eva must finish what she starts no matter the consequences. Throwing caution to the wind, Eva thinks to herself, “Why not?”
Each day, Eva is greeted by something different from the advent calendar as she unlocks it. Some days, it’s something pleasant, and other days, it’s something that has haunting, terrifying or even bloody consequences. Eva will soon find out that this Christmas and her birthday will be even more challenging and horrific.
For those who are not aware, The Advent Calendar is a horror film with a fun aspect of thrills, mystery, and even intense moments of drama. The film, like an advent calendar at Christmas, is packed with plenty of good treats. While horrific and scary, the story is also quite touching, especially when it comes to the life of Eva. It is easy to feel sorry for her when watching her lifestyle and her sadness at living alone as she deals with several challenges, including disrespectful people at her workplace.
The biggest praise for this film is for Eugénie Derouand, who plays the leading character of Eva. It’s simply tremendous work, and her character was highly convincing at displaying the drama, frustrations and challenges of all the horror aspects around her. Derouand was highly convincing as a paraplegic, and while watching for the first time, I questioned if the actress genuinely was a wheelchair user- she was that incredible here.
When it comes to creativity, I was impressed. The advent calendar itself looks great and, again, has moments of being downright creepy. Many horror moments felt unpredictable and were visually dark and unsettling. These dark moments worked wonderfully as the plot moved forward, and I always found this film great to look at. Many shots are well crafted, creating and capturing plenty of different feelings guaranteed to impact audiences.
The plot is also a great one. It’s a horror film with a fresh and engaging concept. Once Eva encountered several bizarre and frightening things after interacting with her calendar, I had to see the story through to the end. I enjoyed how the film got darker and more disturbing as it progressed. My only real complaint was that a couple of details in the plot seemed vague or unclear, especially regarding the ending and final moments. While the film is kind enough to explain many fun details, be prepared to have a few minor unanswered questions that leave you thinking after watching.
Overall, I found this film to be a sweet treat, and I had a great time with it. It’s filled with great elements of horror, thriller, and even drama. The performance of Eugénie Derouand is impressive and stunning, and the pacing is great. As the movie progresses, it grows into something far bigger than I expected, with a few twists and turns along the way. Highly creative and great to watch visually, this is one film that will be a nice present for horror fans this Christmas. The Advent Calendar (2021) is Available on Shudder from 2nd December!