Written & directed by Justin Price, The Elf promises ‘Chucky’ style Christmas mayhem but is disappointingly lacklustre. A film with poor acting, bad CGI and an unnecessarily contrived story filled with plot holes.
What can be understood about the story is Nick (Gabriel Miller) has inherited an old toy shop. He visits it with his fiancé Victoria (Natassia Halabi) where he discovers an elf doll sealed in a chest. This alongside a list of ‘naughty’ names that include his family.
Snow begins to pour in the room as Nick reads what sounds like instructions regarding the elf. When he looks back into the chest, the elf is gone.
On the drive home with his fiancé they have words over his secrecy behind his former life, why she knows nothing about his family & why he hates Christmas. It turns out that Nick suffered a traumatic event as a kid on Christmas Eve. Something that continues to cause him night terrors now.
When the pair arrive home, Nick is shocked to see the elf doll sitting on a shelf there. Victoria throws it away but after having a series of disturbing flashbacks while showering, Nick decides they need to leave. It’s now that Victoria decides to spring a surprise on him, she has invited her family up for Christmas!
A family that doesn’t particularly like Nick. Not that it really matters as the elf doll is on the lose & the naughty list has been updated.
Rather than go for a fun, tongue in cheek & gleefully violent holiday horror, The Elf is a serious & sour toned movie. There are so many head-scratching moments as if the original script got lost & everyone just decided to make the movie on the fly.
Attempts to add layers to the nonsensical story just make things worse & when the killer elf does really get going it follows poor horror trope after poor horror trope. All of that could maybe have been forgiven if the movie was at least competently made but it’s far from that.
Awful lighting, out of focus shots, the same musical tone over & over again to the point of irritation, a Christmas carol scene that is one of the most painfully bad in horror this year & actors that are extremely bad at their jobs.
You can add horrible pacing to the list of negatives as huge pauses between dialogue means scene after scene drags on. Even the more action-orientated moments go on for a lifetime, one in particular sees a character being stalked in a small garage by the doll. It should last a minute at most but goes on for over five.
Those hoping for at least some suspense in regards to the elf doll will be extremely disappointed. The little bugger is pretty useless at his job.
The Elf can be best compared to the modern-day Puppet Master movies rather than the Chucky films. Although that might still be too positive a comparison to such a terrible movie.