CHRISTMAS CINEMA: The Elf (2017)

This movie is brought to you by our friend Paul Andolina, who created the website Wrestling with Film.

It’s mid-December and it’s finally starting to look like Christmas outside. Last week Star Wars The Last Jedi premiered and I was excited to see it in theaters opening day but deep down I was looking forward to another movie just as much. I had stopped at the local Family Video early in the day prior to the premiere to pick up some rentals and there it was on the shelf. I had originally preordered this film back in November but I had to cancel it due to some financial issues. The movie I was specifically there to rent was The Elf. I had looked up the trailer because I had heard there was a movie about a killer elf on the shelf type toy. The trailer had me hooked and I knew I had to see it. Elf on the shelf has become a tradition in some households. A small elf doll mysteriously moves throughout the house doing whatever the fuck it wants and spying on the children to report back to Santa Claus. Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long for a horror movie to capitalize on that premise.

The Elf is centered around Nick and his fiancee Victoria it’s Christmas Eve and Nick heads out to the town he was born in to appraise an old toy store. While in the back of the store he discovers a weird chest with an odd saying on it. It says who ever opens the chest will be the soul of its contents. Inside the chest is an elf toy with a knife. He reads something about a hunt and how he can’t interfere or it will end all bad. It says he can take people off the naughty list as well. As he holds the elf creepy Christmas music plays and it begins to snow inside. The elf runs off. See Nick hates Christmas because of something he witnessed when he was young; an event that has lead to night terrors through adulthood. When they arrive home the elf is waiting on them. His fiancee invites her family over and the murderous elf is unleashed.

The plot runs much deeper than I’m leading on. Souls, seals, and ancient magic thrive in this film but just beneath the surface. In fact it draws its plot from the legend of the Wild Hunt as documented by Jacob Grimm. Given a larger budget I think this could be quite spectacular. Since this movie is a new release I’m not going to spoil anything about it. It has pretty low ratings on IMDb but I enjoyed it a lot. The ending really cemented my enjoyment of it. I thought it was a tense movie with something fresh to offer to the genre of Holiday horror that is so often plagued by killers dressed as Santa Claus. The biggest complaint I have is that the music is so loud that it’s almost impossible to hear the dialogue at times. This wouldn’t be an issue but even the subtitles don’t have all of the dialogue. The visual effects aren’t the greatest ever but that is to be expected with a direct to video release. If you’re a fan of low budget movies you might enjoy this. However, I don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea but with copious amounts of eggnog spiked with bourbon everyone could make it through the hour and a half run time. If you’re not a drinker than some of the holiday herbage could be used in place. All in all I think The Elf is a welcome addition to the storied past of Holiday terror.

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