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Holiday Horror: The Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar (2021)

The Advent Calendar < Le Calendrier> (2021)

Director: Patrick Ridremont

France. English Subtitle


What its about

Eva is a former dancer that’s now a parapalegic. She receives a gift of a mysterious advent calendar. Opening a new door each day results in a different consequence, some positive, others… She has to obey all the rules or she’ll die.

What I Thought

I loved it. I thought it was a fresh idea wrapped up in a grim and unnerving package. It’s like a fever-fueled horror fairy tale. 

The actual Advent Calendar itself is not only a stunning piece to look at, but it’s also terrifying. You’re going to want one for your personal collection. Each time the calendar notifies Eva it’s time to open the next door, it builds an unsettling anticipation as you wait to see what’s going to happen. It is predictable in parts and the writing a tad weak, but the uniqueness of the story itself makes up for the few shortcomings in the film. I really can’t pick this movie apart.

I found myself engrossed and fully invested the entire time, I didn’t want to miss anything. It was well paced, the acting was good, particularly the lead actress, Eugenie Derouand who was captivating as Eva. 

This movie has many layers, it’s not a holiday slasher, it doesn’t have an underlying tone of finding the holiday spirit. It’s about grief, it’s about fear, forgiveness, and wish fulfillment. What or who would you be willing to sacrifice for your deepest desires? 

Final Thoughts


If you like demonic-based horror, you’ll probably enjoy this. It has a few gorey bits, at least one scene made me look away. There were a few story inconsistencies/holes, but I still found it a satisfying watch. It maintains a grim creepy vibe throughout, with tones of questionable morality; I actually found it thought-provoking. An entertaining, mildly festive Christmas horror/thriller.

Where to find it

Shudder/ Prime Video

Photo: Shudder

Official Trailer from Shudder

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She Needs a Priest

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Holiday Horror: Deathcember

Deathcember (2019)

24 International Directors

24 Short Films 

What its about

24 directors from around the world, 24 short films. 24 different stories that take a stab at the darker aspects of the holiday season. Set up like an advent calendar, it takes the viewer through different genres of horror gift-wrapped in a two hour and 25 minute adventure.

What I Thought

Kind of long, but fun. I love horror anthologies. This could easily find itself into my annual holiday rotation. From the stunning and beautifully orchestrated opening, you know you’re in for something special. 

I liked some stories better than others but overall I thought it was well presented. It reminded me of some sort of Christmas Twilight Zone. It’s not like other holiday horror movies that often center on a slasher, psycho, an evil Santa or some cheesy holiday lesson. It’s properly different.

Stories include:

A German boy greedily obsessed with the chocolates inside advent calendars meets his dreadful fate.

A retail shopping experience goes from bad to worse- brutally and humorously.

Christmas carolers are forced to carol until the end of time.

An ice-skating tryst turns unexpectedly gruesome.

A man meeting his in-laws for the first time turns into something you will never expect.

I really couldn’t wait for the next chapter. 

At times I found myself laughing, at other times- horrified. Overall, an enjoyable watch.

Final Thoughts


There’s really something for every horror fan from every culture in this movie. If you don’t enjoy one story, wait a few minutes for the next. Beautifully animated sequences surrounding an advent calendar link together each individual story offering a full holiday horror experience. That being said, go in with expectations similar to that of a low budget indie movie and you’ll have fun.

Where to find it

Prime, Apple, TubiTV and VOD

Photo: IMDB

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Let’s Talk About A Classic Horror Story

A Classic Horror Story 2021 – Netflix

Directors: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli

Italian Horror

What its about

Loosely based on a real Sicilian urban legend, five strangers mysteriously crash their rideshare camper into a tree while trying to avoid a dead animal carcass. Finding themselves inexplicably in the middle of the woods surrounded by forest and no road, they must fight to survive. 

What I Thought

The English dub was done well. The acting was good, particularly the lead actress, Matilda Lutz (Rings 2017, Revenge 2017) who gave a killer performance. I liked the story idea, and being a big fan of Italian horror movies I went in with high expectations that fell short slightly. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. The story felt a little fragmented, the characters underdeveloped, and the end message wasn’t totally clear.

Final Thoughts


All in all, a decent watch for horror fans, three out of five. Definitely worth a Sunday (not Saturday night) viewing. There were plenty of intense moments, an unexpected plot twist that became a twist inside of a twist, and a couple of things I didn’t expect.

However, there were A LOT of horror tropes presented all at once. It felt like De Feo and Strippoli found a horror movie checklist and went through ticking off boxes as they filmed. The first half of the movie is better than the second half when you’re not really sure what’s happening. I also expected a little more character development. Why have five strangers from different backgrounds and not explore that a little more? The title would have you believe it’s paying homage to a specific genre or era. I felt some serious Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Midsommar vibes but it’s not really clear what genre of horror this movie is playing homage to, if any. It’s simply a bold title.

That being said, the movie was paced well, technically presented well, and the story was interesting enough to keep me watching. It had some fun moments but I think it could have been scarier and gorier than it was. 

Where to find it



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Loved Last Night in Soho!

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Director: Edgar Wright

Psychological Horror

What its about

A young woman, Eloise is haunted by her past but looking forward to her future in fashion as a designer. She heads off to the London College of Fashion to pursue her dreams. Packing her suitcase full of sixties- era albums, (which she’s obsessed with) she sets off but not before saying goodbye to her deceased mother who she’s able to see in mirrors. Eloise (Ellie) has special gifts. Gifts that can transport her through time via vivid dreaming. It’s through these dreams that she comes to know a young woman, Sandie, an aspiring actress and singer. Sandie is pulled into a deadly lifestyle and Elllie tries desperately to save her.

What I Thought

I try to avoid spoilers, particularly with movies that I think A LOT of people are going to enjoy. And this is one of those movies. First thing to note is the cinematography. Easily the best I’ve seen this year. It’s so beautifully done that it gave Argento’s Suspiria (BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY in my opinion) a run for its money. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (South Korea) did an incredible job.  As a Korean horror movie fan, I was excited to see Chung’s involvement. It’s beautifully shot, the costuming, effects and soundtrack really immerses you and drives the story. 

The plot was intriguing, well thought out and left me engaged for the full 116 minutes. I really enjoyed the story as it progressed. Seeing familiar faces like Matt Smith (Doctor Who 2010-13) and the iconic likes of Diana Rigg (The Avengers 1961-69) and Terence Stamp (The Collector 1965) was exciting. All gifted actors; and the two female leads, Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch 2015) were believable and suited their respective roles. 

I usually try to predict the movies I watch but I wasn’t able to do that with this film which made for an exhilarating watch. A lot of interesting plot twists surrounding Sandie’s mysterious life and unfortunate circumstances kept me guessing. As Ellie’s dreams start to crossover with her waking reality, blurring the lines between past and present, the effects, intensity and horror pick up. You think you know… You feel real empathy for the characters of both Sandie and Ellie, but you won’t see the ending coming.

The ending was so gratifying it gave me goosebumps. My mouth agape the entire time, it was one of the most satisfying films I’ve experienced in a while. 

The Verdict

Four and a half out of five, simply because I thought a couple of the characters could have been better developed, namely Jack (Matt Smith). Other than that, this movie was visually impressive, with an incredibly immersive soundtrack of fire 60s British pop tunes, the story was intricate, unique. And unpredictable. This movie met and exceeded my expectations. Would watch again.

Where to find it

Available to stream on VOD platforms like Apple, Prime, Vudu.

Photo: IMDB

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Let’s Talk About Lamb (2021)

Lamb 2021- Iceland

Lamb (2021)

Valdimar Jóhannsson


What its about

An Icelandic horror/drama. Rural sheep farmers Ingvar and Maria, discover one of their sheep has given birth to something unnatural. As a childless couple they become entranced with the newborn and decide to keep the lamb and raise it as their own child. 

What I Thought

I don’t want to give too much away because I feel this is a movie you truly need to see for yourself. This was one of the most unique films I’ve watched in a long time. It’s not your regular type of horror movie. It’s more like a dark, hauntingly grim commentary on society. The cinematography was simply beautiful. The director has a background in cinematography and it clearly shows. Being filmed in rural Iceland gave the film a foreboding, unearthly feel that immerses the viewer and keeps you hooked even though it’s quite a slow burn. 

When you’d expect that a lamb child would look cartoonish it really doesn’t. Even though Ada doesn’t speak, her gestures and eye expressions speak for her. I kind of forgot that she wasn’t human in parts and felt genuine joy for Maria and Ingvar as Ada brought them closer together.

Considering the film consists of four main characters, it relies a lot on the performances of the actors and nuances in the film to carry it.  It works though. The acting was outstanding, and the writing impressive. You really develop a deep empathy for the characters, particularly Maria and Ada. 

This film deals a lot with grief, loss, fractured relationships and love. We learn that Ingvar and Maria were pregnant previously but seemingly lost that child. You feel the pain, the longing from Maria wanting to be a mother, wanting a family. You feel the desperation of Ingvar wanting to provide his wife the life she wants. 

Now for the animals: Yes, there are a few animal deaths. Not for shock value, and not in a gruesome manner. This is one of the first movies I’ve ever seen where even the animals have character. Simple expressions, close shots of faces and eyes give the animals in this film a more or less, humanistic quality. It’s almost as though the director is telling the story through the eyes of the animals more so than the people. The birth mother of Ada cries for her lamb outside their window, and you feel genuine heartbreak. 

You’re either going to love or hate the ending. I’m not giving it away but, personally, I liked it. I thought it was bleak, emotional and shocking. Again, VERY UNIQUE. There are things in this film that you simply won’t expect, or see anywhere else.

The Verdict

Four out of five. Other than a little bit of slow pacing initially, I loved this movie. It was so different from anything out there right now. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’d watch it again, I’d buy a copy, and I’m telling everyone to check it out. 

Where to find it

Available in theaters, you can also rent it on most VOD platforms.

Photo: IMDB

Lamb Trailer

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Let’s Talk About Malignant

Malignant (2021)

What its about

A supernatural horror with BIG ambitions. 

An oppressed woman’s (Madison) abusive husband is murdered. As police investigate, Madison starts hallucinating other gruesome murders. She learns the murders are happening in real time as she witnesses them.  A supernatural link between Madison and the murderer provides a window for her to try to save the victims. 

What I Thought

I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I’m going to offer a spoiler-free review because I feel this is a film you really need to experience for yourself, if nothing more than to debate it. There was SO much to unpack in this movie. It was a mammoth of a film clocking in at an hour and 51 minutes. 

What I liked:

I enjoyed the 70s/80s horror throwback vibe with the synth soundtrack.

I liked the transitioning scenes into Madison’s visions.

The atmosphere was spectacularly grim, ominous and offered some great shots.

The makeup and gore effects were exceptional.

There were some unique kill scenes.

What I didn’t like:

I may have chuckled at a few scenes and lines that weren’t meant to be funny.

I didn’t enjoy the lead actress’ performance. I’m sure Annabelle Wallis is a lovely actress, but she seems more suited to say, soap operas.

The story line was confusing at points and felt like it was being tugged in a few directions at once.

It felt cheesy in spots. Maybe that was on purpose, I can’t speculate but, I wanted it to be better.

It felt really long. I think a couple of scenes didn’t even really need to be there.

I hated the ending line in this movie.

I LIKED those beautiful transition scenes but it was done several times which kind of took the beauty out of it. I felt at times that the story and dialogue were sacrificed for effects, but I often feel that way about James Wan films. Whether it was inspired by, or a nod to, I felt like I had seen this movie already, only in several other movies like The Ring, or House of Wax. 

It didn’t really pick up until about two thirds through with a BIG crescendo in the last 20 minutes. Although those sequences were cool, they almost felt video-gamish to me. I definitely did not like the ending. It wrapped up like an after school special. Very lackluster. 

The Verdict

Three out of five. This is a movie you’re either going to love or hate. I’ve asked around, and it’s pretty divided. The efforts were there, it has all the makings of a memorable horror film but personally, I was slightly disappointed. Maybe you’ll feel differently.

Where to find it

Was available on HBO max for 30 days, now available to rent/buy on VOD

Photo: IMDB

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