‘All is not calm…’
The Pikchure Zero Entertainment production stars Natassia Halabi, Lassiter Holmes and Les Best.
Nick is haunted by night terrors stemming from a tragic murder he saw when he was young.
After inheriting an old toy shop, Nick discovers a cursed elf doll sealed inside an ancient chest with a naughty list of his family’s names written on it. He soon discovers that the elf was an evil conduit meant to unleash a supernatural killing spree during the Christmas holidays by whoever set it free…
The Elf, starring Gabriel Miller as Nick, the mentally unkempt and Christmas-hating fiancé of the confused and agitated Victoria, played by Natassia Halabi, is writer/director Justin Price’s entry in a long line of ill-conceived and unwarranted killer doll movies which have followed on the heels of Ealing Studios’ beautifully eerie Dead of Night from 1945.
Unfortunately, Price’s movie never remotely approaches the eidolic high water mark of that earlier effort or even some of the better copies, like the Anthony Hopkins vehicle, Magic (1978).
Filled with inconsistencies, contrivances, and illogical actions, with bewildered characters drifting through scenes and situations which negate earlier moments and sometimes never receive any clarification at all, the plot drops in front of the viewer like a discreditable lump of wet clay formed into a vague, and barely discernible, shape.
There’s a killer elf doll, of course; there’s Nick who, we find, is agitated by a childhood trauma which even the National Inquirer would consider too absurd to print; there’s some kind of hackneyed curse on Nick’s family involving the elf doll, which Nick knew of but inexplicably didn’t seem to know of when he reactivated the little fiend at the beginning of the film; then there’s the plot twist that’s supposed to throw the viewer for an acrobatic loop right out of a circus trapeze act but, instead, just leaves one bored and indifferent.
The only upside to the film is the sound design; with its deep bass notes offset by unique, tonal reverberations and the peculiar ticks, moans, scratches, and rumbling baritone wails washing through otherwise static and uninspired scenes, the viewer is kept intrigued for a large swath of the film, continually hoping for more, but eventually, it becomes apparent that the sound designer’s haunting resonance can’t withstand the unrelenting plodding of a ponderous and bromidic script. Only for completists and/or masochists.
Ben Spurling, MOVIES and MANIA
Buy DVD: Amazon.com
“Painful performances come from people you’ve never seen before and will never see again. If you do, hopefully they learn how to not look directly into the camera next time. Dead air lingering between every line of dialogue smothers the film in excruciating silence.” Culture Crypt
“The daymare sequence was creepy and effective with Nick as a child wandering through statue-still partygoers, but it is ruined by the adult Nick’s odd enactment of someone being tormented by that daymare – it’s just bizarre. He is one of the least believable actors I’ve ever seen; the performance is so bad it’s actually comedic.” The Movie Waffler
Natassia Halabi … Victoria – Pledges
Lassiter Holmes … John – The Cloth; Jacob; shorts: A Voice from Hell; The Clown
Les Best … Delmar – short: Among the Dead
Joseph Daniel Ellis … Jeremiah – The 13th Friday
Margareta Fratila … Martha
Loren Haskins Alonzo … Angel
Lisa May … Tiffany – Die-Rize; The 13th Friday; Dark Moon Rising
Gabriel Miller … Nick
Viviana Ozuna … Lauri – The 13th Friday
Pat Turner … Grandpa Fred
The Elf was unleashed on November 7, 2017, on VOD and December 5 on DVD by Uncork’d Entertainment.