The Advent Calendar (Le Calendrier) - The doors to candy, dreams and death.

Director & Writer: Patrick Ridremont.

Starring: Eugénie Derouand, Honorine Magnier,Clément Olivieri & Janis Abrikh.

On December 3rd, paraplegic Eva (Eugénie Derouand) is given a mysterious advent calendar for her birthday. The sweets contained within hint at mysterious possibilities. But, there are rules which have to be followed. How far will Eva go for a Christmas miracle, and will the sacrifices be worth it?

The movie opens with a quote from French poet Charles Baudelaire that roughly translates as, "To digest both natural and artificial happiness, you must first have the courage to swallow it." Which, coincidentally, are the words that got me thrown out of my college poetry club.

Eva is portrayed as bitter about her circumstances. She's swimming at her local pool when a guy starts hitting on her, and her response is to try and make him feel uncomfortable about her disability. It's no surprise that she is this way; many people treat her differently due to her injury. People stare or give disgusted looks, and her boss is a complete dick-head, or as the French would say, "tête de bite."

That's probably wrong, I don't speak French, I just typed 'dick-head' into google translate, but as the movie's spoken language is French, I thought I'd make an attempt.

Eva's friend Sophie (Honorine Magnier) brings some gifts for Eva's birthday, one of which happens to be an ornate wooden advent calendar. It's an unusual-looking thing, more like a small armoire (oh yeah, using those fancy French words again) than a more traditional advent calendar. The doors are unlocked with a key and can't be opened until the correct date. In addition to that, there are rules to be followed: If you eat a candy, you must then eat them all - or you die. If you try and dispose of the calendar, you die. If you don't follow the rules, you die. It's the Mogwai of advent calendars.

Thinking the whole thing to be a quirky bit of amusement, Eva eats the candies and something demonic awakens. Cue manipulation, the temporary cure for Alzheimer's, shaky legs, and possibly being fucked to death.

The Advent Calendar is a unique entry into the Christmas Horror genre. There is no killer dressed as Santa. No sign of Krampus, elves or evil snowmen. It's an advent calendar, which has got to be a first. That difference makes the film a compelling watch. It is, however, a bit on the vague side. If you want an explanation for anything, you're not going to be getting it. No information on the demon - presuming that's what it is - and nothing about the origins of the calendar. This is fine if you don't mind ambiguity, but if you want to know the lore behind it, you won't find it here.

There are also a few logical leaps taken by characters. After meeting the previous owner of the calendar, Eva figures out what will happen upon eating the final sweet pretty damn quickly. She even has a one night stand, who has a revelation about the rules, which I'm not sure how he figured that out whilst relaxing in a post-coital haze. Never mind when or why they decided to discuss the issue of the advent calendar. I would think that sort of conversation to be a bit of a boner-killer.

Eva was hoping to carve more than just the turkey.

I did learn a few things from the movie:

Anyone who refers to a penis as "Baby Jesus" deserves to die.

Letting a dog have an unsafe chew-toy can lead to death.

Disabled French women are gagging for a man to approach them and offer to wash their vaginas.

The Advent Calendar isn't a movie for everyone. It won't be joining my annual list of Christmas horror flicks that I regularly watch in December, but it is worth watching. Just like advent calendars, you might try an expensive, quirky, gift-filled one just once, but you'll ultimately go back to what you know and settle on the store-bought chocolate filled one. It's different enough to make it stand out. Just don't expect to return to it next year.

You can find The Advent Calendar on Shudder.