Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Jamaal Buden
Producer: Khu, Justin Price, Deanna Grace Congo
Stars: Deanna Grace Congo, Stephanie Marie Baggett, Erika Martinez, Melissa L. Vega, Chelsea Bella, Loren Haskins, Norma Mendiola, Joshua Elias, J.R. Ovalle, Lisa May, Amy Jo Guthrie
Eight friends add their names to a supernatural ‘Naughty’ list and become cursed to fulfill their secret sins or die.
“The Elf” (review here) is so easy to forget, I literally did. Looking at the date on my review, I apparently saw the film only one year ago. Looking at a screenshot and rereading the synopsis however, “The Elf” barely rings a faint bell as I cannot recall a single thing about its story. The 15/100 review score indicates an experience so abysmal, my mind blocked all memories of the movie to mercifully prevent further trauma.
Defying conventional logic, follow-up film “Elves” somehow manages to be even worse. Then again, willingly watching the sequel despite knowing how bad the first one was defies wisdom too, so I’m partly to blame for self-inflicting the indie horror equivalent of terrible torture.
To protect against a needless expenditure of mental energy, I’m foregoing a traditional review structure. Here are some notes on the movie presented in a “live tweet” format instead:
The two boys in the prologue could quite possibly be the most unconvincing child “actors” I’ve ever seen. Perhaps predicting what the end experience would be like for viewers, they seem to have no interest whatsoever in being there. The sting of one boy trapping his little brother in an oven is actually fairly chilling. Too bad the brother sells his “let me out” pleading with all the enthusiasm of someone ordering an Egg McMuffin while half-asleep at McDonald’s.
They gave 17 actors their own individual title cards? Is that just everyone in the entire cast? I see Joshua Elias is in the movie. Or is it Joshua Ellis? Could be either, since opening and end credits spell his name differently.
Speaking of credits, in an ominous sign revealing everything one needs to know about “Elves,” no one is listed as a writer. The two likeliest explanations are that the film never had a script to begin with or no one wants to take credit for this mess. Both scenarios are plausible, though the editor is listed as “Mr. X,” so we might want to lean toward the latter.
Nine friends are now assembling for the saddest Christmas party imaginable. They’re sitting in camping chairs in a circle inside an abandoned warehouse to do one single shot from plastic cups. No music. No other booze. No nothing. What is this?
Anyway, one of them pulls a “Truth or Dare” and tricks everyone into signing their names on a ‘Naughty’ list. Now they’re all cursed or whatever. Something to do with having an elf doll watch you act out a dark desire or else be killed. So yeah, the doll doesn’t even have much to do with the movie. Faces just morph into weird grins when people become possessed and generally kill themselves.
Some redheaded goth girl appears out of nowhere to conduct a séance with two friends over the elf doll from the first movie. “Elves” offers no context regarding her identity, but she is the lone returning character from “The Elf,” giving this sequel some loose connection to its predecessor.
Is that a microphone battery pack on that actor’s waistband? At least they’re using microphones I guess. I think the other person in this scene is supposed to be his abusive father, even though both men appear to be the same age.
The camera just shook like someone accidentally knocked it while walking by and no one bothered to reshoot. Later, a seated actor stands to put his head out of frame and you can see the camera unlock and jerkily tilt upward several beats after the fact to reframe. Even when mounted on a tripod, the camera still finds ways to look clumsily unsteady.
Two of the girls track down another woman who apparently has more information about the curse killing their friends. She goes on and on about the three wise men bringing gifts to Jesus, seven deadly sins, something about a chest and a doorway to another dimension. The movie isn’t remotely interesting enough to bother puzzling out this rubbish. No one can be sure “Elves” ever figured out its own backstory either, or else just threw a bunch of tripe in a blender and walked away.
Now there’s someone in a Krampus mask killing people. He spends seven minutes slowly stalking and killing one woman in her home. Then he spends another five killing a man in a library. The thing of it is, all of the friends are dead or accounted for by now except one person, so it has to be her under the mask.
Except, wait what? That wasn’t supposed to be a person in a Halloween grim reaper robe and mask but an actual incarnation of Krampus? Okay, but then what happened to the remaining girl from the original eight friends whose fate we didn’t see? Why am I even asking when no one cares, including the people who made the movie? The dipstick ending makes no sense anyway.
I should have followed Mr. X’s lead and not even admitted I threw 80 minutes up cack alley to watch “Elves.” Absurdly amateur acting. Happenstance lighting. I spend more on an average week’s groceries than seems to have been spent producing this movie. I put more thought into my shopping list than anyone put into this plot too.
All I want for Christmas is to forget “Elves” as fast and as fully as I forgot “The Elf.” Please Santa, or Krampus, or whomever I have to pledge myself to, make my holiday wish come true.
Review Score: 10