FrightFest 2021: The Advent Calendar

When paraplegic ex-dancer Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is given an antique German advent calendar, she discovers that behind each door lurks disaster, desire fulfilment and death. And chocolate, obviously.

Originally just Le calendrier (if you’re embellishing the title why not go all the way and call it The Scary Advent Calendar), this festive French fright flick aims higher than Final Destination or Wish Upon, opening with a Baudelaire quote before enacting its daily dose of destruction on Eva’s life. Her wish is to walk again and the calendar promises that power, but it must take sacrifices and she hast to follow the rules, eg. you cannot throw it away and those who try end up rotting like a sweet tooth.

Horror movies with rules are generally hokey; ones that involve some kind of count down doubly so – not least because the constant reminder of how far through the film you are shatters the illusion. This is unfortunate given the sharp wit and attentive direction that elevate Le calendrier from its Creepypasta premise and Final Destination formula, mulling over its themes while running over its characters.

Rooted in disability, trauma and self-medication, the sardonic script and sumptuous cinematography make the picture as bitter and rich as dark chocolate. Throw in a couple of wince-inducing sensations (scissors scraping on glass and nails pulled from fingers) and you get the best Yuletide horror since Last Christmas.

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