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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

[Review] Netflix’s “Elves” is Perfect Christmas Horror for Fans of Creature Features and Folk Horror

When young Josefine asks why part of the forest is fenced off in Elves, a local woman (Ann Eleonora Jørgensen) replies: “So no one goes in.” She then tells the tourists to “stay away” from that area in general. As made very obvious earlier on in the series, the fence in question does more than keep people out; it’s keeping something in.

This short and not-so-sweet Danish series follows a family’s vacation to the fictional island of Årmandsø. Charlotte and Mads (Lila Nobel, Peder Thomas Pedersen) steal their two kids, Josefine and Kasper (Sonja Steen, Milo Campanale), away from the city for some much needed togetherness after drifting apart. Their Christmas holiday, however, is already off to a bad start when Mads runs over something on the way to the cabin. They only find what looks to be a tar-like substance on the car and no sign of whatever they might have hit. 

It is only when Josefine goes back to the scene of the accident does she discover they in fact did injure something. She hides the victim, a small and unusual creature later named Kee-ko, in the barn without realizing the misfortune she’s now brought upon herself as well as her family. News of the fledgling’s displacement sparks concern in the community, and the forest’s caretakers take action to prevent any further trouble.

Elves, or Nisser, could be mistaken for a Goosebumps story based on the setup alone. A somewhat impaired family is attacked by unearthly creatures while visiting a strange, new place. Sounds familiar. Yet as soon as cows are sent to their sacrificial deaths in order to appease whatever lurks in the forest, you know you’re in for something bolder. The feast does not stop there either; the titular monsters eventually take their first human life after a number of years without incident. The severed head hurled over the fence is a sign this standing truce is hereby over.

The aggressively adorable Kee-ko is this series’ own version of Gizmo; it comes across as a mix between a classic Troll doll and a Fingerlings toy. That cute veneer is why the show’s main character, the unhappy Josefine, becomes attached to her new friend. She’s not only tired of her mother treating her like a baby, she wants something to love. Like the aforementioned Mogwai, humans aren’t cut out to take care of something like Kee-ko. They don’t stay precious and little for long.

Elves taps into an unsung part of Nordic culture, and it does it in a way that’s better than its basic premise would suggest. The cinematography alone is an asset; Lars Reinholdt (The Bridge, The Rain) captures the bucolic beauty of the woodsy setting while also providing incentives for cottagecore enthusiasts. The eye-pleasing aesthetic soothes when the series flouts its own themes of ecological dread and family dysfunction. The folkloric namesakes signify human’s disrespect for rules; be it societal or natural. It’s frayed symbolism at best, but the adult elves at least look convincing and terrifying as they devour members of the cast.

Elves relies on a considerable amount of tropes to get the story up and going, and for those who look for this sort of thing in their horror, the characters don’t tug at hearts or garner all that much sympathy. Nevertheless, this distinct creature-feature in the form of a swift, straightforward and exquisitely shot TV series is a welcome addition to the world of hinterland horror.

Elves can be streamed on Netflix right now.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/tv/3694037/review-netflixs-elves-perfect-christmas-horror-fans-creature-features-folk-horror/

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