New this week On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment!

THE ELF (2017)

Directed by Justin Price
Written by Justin Price
Starring Gabriel Miller, Natassia Halabi, Lassiter Holmes, Lisa May, Viviana Ozuna, Joseph Daniel Ellis, Les Best, Margareta Fratila, Loren Haskins Alonzo, Pat Turner

To my understanding, the Elf on the Shelf is a pretty creepy ass concept. An elf is set on the shelf to watch a child leading up to Christmas Eve in order to report back to Santa whether the kid’s been naughty or nice. That’s exactly what Christmas needed—a little Orwellian paranoia. Still, there’s a lot of fodder there to be exploited for some seasonal nightmare. Too bad, THE ELF is a film incapable of telling a coherent story, let alone a twisted tale of holiday horror.

For what I was able to discern from the disjointed and unfollowable narrative, the film opens on a toymaker sewing a child’s mouth shut and somehow transferring the souls of naughty children into the dolls he makes. Flash forward to the present and pair of pretty people—flop haired and stubbly Nick (Gabriel Miller) and his overly botoxed fiancé Victoria (Natassia Halabi) rummage their way though an antique store. In this poorly paced scene, eventually Nick makes his way to a back room where he discovers a toy elf inside a treasure chest. The room fills with snow and Nick is branded with a curse of the Elf. Meanwhile, Victoria has a disjointed conversation with her pot smoking girlfriend who informs us that Nick has a phobia about Christmas and doesn’t want Victoria to meet his family. We then follow Nick and Victoria home where they encounter a man who has just been in a car accident. After the man freaks out, the couple don’t call for help. Instead they simply get in their car and drive away leaving the man to perish, I guess. But Nick and Victoria have better things on their mind like whether they want to get married, Nick’s hallucinations of himself as a young Hispanic child (Nick is Caucasian BTW) being haunted by Christmas trees and Santas, and Victoria planning a surprise Christmas party for Nick where he knows no one attending the party. Meanwhile, the Elf starts picking off random people while Nick and Victoria try to sort out their relationship issues.

Found it! Worst movie of the year. Right here. Hands down.

I try not to be too negative in my reviews and I’m sure writer/director Justin Price is a great dude, but THE ELF is by far the worst horror film you’re going to see this year. It’s a disaster from start to finish from technical work to acting to the story itself. It feels as if no editor was assigned to this film and the director didn’t know how to discern between footage that was uncuttable gold and what needed to be shed on the editing room floor (here’s a hint—none of it is gold). Long awkward pauses. Out of focus camerawork. Horrific darks and glaring lights. Actors who seem to have no idea what state they’re in, let alone what scene. Actors staring into the camera. Loosely fitting conversations where two people are talking about completely different things. More long awkward pauses. It’s as if everything is occurring in some Lynchian dream world, minus the creativity, the quirkiness, the technical know-how, and pretty much anything else good that occurs in a Lynch film. And while the performances are flat and emotionless, the horrific edits or lack thereof cancels out any chance they had as it seems like the actors didn’t really have a script to work off of—let alone any idea as to what is going on, and were waiting for direction that never came.

I hate it that I have to be this negative about THE ELF. I really do. My only advice to the director would be to go back to square one, brush up on basics, watch movies, learn how to tell a cohesive story, cast actors in your film (not people you know or people who are just around that day at the bus stop), then and most importantly, hire an editor and edit your movie. I’m sorry for being so negative, it hurts me to be this way. But I would be more sorry if anyone misconstrued this review as anything but negative and had the unfortunate luck of experiencing what I just saw.