in

Review: Jamaal Buden’s Elves

Elves is the sequel to Justin Price’s 2017 holiday horror feature, The Elf. I never expected a sequel to that movie, nor do I think one was particularly warranted, but hey, here we are! This time, the emerging series passed between directors, with Justin Price handing the reigns over to director Jamaal Buden. I don’t think this switch has anything to do with the film’s success or downfall, but I thought it would be important to acknowledge it. Shot under Pikchure Zero, Elves follows a small town dealing with the capture of ruthless serial killer, The Holiday Reaper. During this process, a small group of friends find an elf inside a magical toy box in an abandoned building. After opening the box, their numbers start dwindling due to violent and mysterious, out of character deaths. Soon, they discover that elves imbued with the power of the seven deadly sins are targeting the town. It’s a race against time to survive and end the elves’ wrath before Christmas morning. Deanna Grace Congo, Stephanie Marie Baggett, Amy Jo Guthrie, Loren James Haskins, J.R. Ovalle, Joshua Ellis and Chelsea Bella star.

Elves is exciting because it takes the Christmas horror genre in a new direction, and tackles a supernatural subplot that we don’t see often – namely the seven deadly sins. It definitely brings a new meaning to the nice list and naughty list. For fans of the first movie, The Elf, it keeps things interesting with a new spin while also trying to strive for originality. I’m OK with the plot and the story progression, really I am, but I can’t help but to feel like Elves is missing… something. I can’t describe it or pinpoint the exact aspect, but the film is missing something so integral that keeps me from going, “yes, success.” The camera and audio are great, props to cinematographer Lisa May and editor Mr. X, and the film features a ton of on screen deaths, some bloodier than others. And the last twenty minutes push Elves to be the horror flick it wanted to be. And yet, it’s still missing a piece of cohesiveness, which keeps me from championing it. Looking back on my review of the first film, it seems Elves is suffering from the stereotypical sophomore slump.

Elves is directed by Jamaal Buden and produced by Justin Price, Khu and Deanna Grace Congo. Their film, Elves, is hitting DVD and VOD on December 4th 2018 courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment. It’s hard to give this one a rating because I don’t know where to go. There’s a lot of give and take. I loved the expertly crafted elf dolls and my eyes stayed glued to them whenever a character lifted them up. Yet, the opening was too long and too ineffective. The film has a lot of great locations, but sometimes the more action oriented sequences were under the mark, as were some of the acting performances. Elves is low on horror outside of the deaths, but high on typical character and plot building elements; which is actually fine with me given a movie with this particular story-line. Ya know, Christmas horror is quickly emerging as one of the top subgenres, and the release of Elves is quite timely. It’s literally coming out three weeks before the holiday. I’m going to give this one a passing score, but caution potential viewers to go into their experience expecting an independent film missing that subconscious suspense level needed to develop into a horror film. There. That’s what it’s missing.

Killer cover art, though.

Final Score: 5 out of 10.

Written by MGDSQUAN

(Senior Editor) MGDSQUAN