Le Calendrier, The Advent Calendar (2021)
Directed by: Patrick Ridremont
Written by: Patrick Ridremont
Starring: Clément Olivieri, Cyril Garnier, Eugénie Derouand, Fabien Jegoudez, Honorine Magnier, Isabelle Tanakil, Janis Abrikh, Jean-François Garreaud, Jérôme Paquatte, Laura Presgurvic, Olivier Bonjour, Vladimir Perrin
THE ADVENT CALENDAR (2021)
aka Le Calendrier
Written and Directed by Patrick Ridremont
Streaming on Shudder
French/German with English Subtitles
Paraplegic, former ballerina, Eva Roussel, is visited by her best friend Sophie who’s been living in Germany. Returning home to France for the festive period, Sophie gifts Eva an unusual, wooden advent calendar she picked up from the Munich Christmas Market. Already a few days into the month, Eva opens the first door which reveals a chocolate, albeit with rules: 1. If you eat one chocolate, you must eat them all or I’ll kill you. 2. Respect all the rules until you open the last door or I will kill you. 3. If you dump the calendar, I will kill you. Thinking the threats are a load of rubbish, Eva eats the first chocolate and continues to open the rest of the doors, but as each day reveals a new ‘treat’, she realises that the calendar’s rules are not to be taken lightly.
Oozing European style, quirky French horror THE ADVENT CALENDAR flips the lead up to Christmas festivities on its head as each door to chocolate heaven becomes a gateway to the unknown.
Focusing on the character of Eva (played wonderfully by Eugénie Derouand), the film’s early scenes displays the struggles she has to overcome in her life, whether that’s prejudices from her boss and people in public, or the obstacles she encounters whilst trying to navigate a venue in her wheelchair. Somewhere like a moderately packed bar would not seem troublesome to someone able-bodied, but, as we see from Eva’s point of view, being in a wheelchair, attempting to get past the stools, tables and standing patrons is nothing short of a challenge. Though she’s upbeat and proactive in life, it’s plain to see that these experiences get to her, so when she receives the ominous advent calendar, it just seems like more trouble is at her door. As she opens the doors of the advent calendar, she realises the power behind it, some of which brings incredible joy to her life. However, there are many doors that bring great sorrow and with no control over the calendar, it’s hard to predict what may happen next.
Horror films that focus on objects as a source of evil or magic always seem to offer up something fresh and exciting and this film is no different. The advent calendar itself is as creepy as you can get. Opening up with two front doors, almost like a doll’s house, its different shaped doors and various contents leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering what treat or terror each door will unleash next. The freakiest part of them all is Ich, a Nosferatu-looking cutout character that pops up on the top of the calendar at midnight, along with a voice in German informing the owner that it’s midnight so time to unlock the next door of the calendar. Unlike your usual chocolate calendars, this one requires a key to open the doors but even then, being a calendar with demonic energy consuming it, it doesn’t always need anyone present to open the advent doors.
THE ADVENT CALENDAR is quite an inventive tale and is executed incredibly well with various elements that effectively creep and chill. It’s dark, twisted and frightening at times, summoning some traumatic scenarios that are difficult to watch, but you can’t help but wonder what may be around the corner or, indeed, the next door.
If you’re looking for a sinister festive chiller this Christmas, then this may be the Advent Calendar you’ve been waiting for!