The Advent Calendar (2021) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the Shudder original French feature, The Advent Calendar

A woman is gifted an advent calendar by her friend but discovers the gifts it brings are accompanied by an evil curse and a terrifying monster.

Is The Advent Calendar (2021) Scary?

The Advent Calendar has some quick unsettling scenes and it’s main villain has a pretty good simple design but nothing in this movie will have you hiding under the sheets. There is some gore but I’d advertise it as gore-lite meaning you see the aftermath and not the bloody act happening.

Overall you won’t leave The Advent Calendar afraid of the holidays unless you usually don’t heed warnings that threaten your life.

Plot Synopsis:

The film opens with our main character Eva (played by Eugenie Derouand) at a local gym’s swimming pool and after a guy Antoine (played by Janis Abrikh) fails to flirt with her, we learn she’s paraplegic. When then cut Eva recording a video on her phone with a timestamp of December 23rd, 2020. She warns the viewer of the advent calendar and tells them to follow all the rules or they’ll die.

Dramatic Title Screen!

Back with Eva, at a point in time which I presume is before December 23rd, or else this will be a short movie, she arrives home, feeds her dog Marvin, takes some meds, and heads to bed. Before she can get into bed, she hears the sounds of a truck’s horn approaching as her room lights up.

Eugenie Derouand as Eva in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
“The construction worker did say a home in the middle of the road is a bad idea…”

This turns out to be a hallucination and, though startled, Eva goes to sleep. The following day we learn is December 3rd and Eva is at work at an insurance place with a shitty boss named John who is angry at her for approving insurance payouts. Eva calls her father but his wife picks up and we learn her dad is suffering from Alzheimer’s so her step-mom rudely hangs up on her… also it’s Eva’s birthday… yay…?

That night Eva gets a visit from her friend Sophie (played by Honorine Magnier) who is visiting from Germany and has brought her a gift. You probably guessed what it is, it’s the Advent Calendar. There’s some engraving on the back that Sophie says translates to “If you throw it away, I’ll kill you”… Sophie is Eva’s friend right? Neither Sophie or Eva know who the “I” in the threat is so they ignore it.

As Sophie opens some wine to celebrate the birthday, Eva opens the first three doors on the advent calendar and we see a flash of some kind of demonic figure. The first candy is wrapped in foil that spells out the rules:

Rule 1: The Calendar contains candy. If you eat one, eat them all. Or I’ll kill you.

Rule 2: Respect all the rules until you open the last door or I’ll kill you.

Rule 3: Dump it and I’ll kill you

Eva eats the candy despite the warnings that I’m sure mean something will try to kill her.

Eva eats the first piece of candy in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
“Wait, hold on, did you say ‘kill’?”

The second candy Eva notes that it’s her father’s favorite and puts it to the side so that’s already breaking a rule. The third candy comes with a card that states “To cure hurt, destroy what hurt you”. Eva doesn’t eat the third candy and tries to open the fourth but the key gets jammed. At midnight the advent calendar starts ringing like an alarm while repeating “Midnight is here. Open the door.”

The key is no longer jammed but this fourth chocolate comes wrapped in a note that says “Jesus said to the cripple, ‘arise and walk’” so that really sours the mood. Sophie apologizes and Eva cordially ends their get-together.

After Sophie leaves, Eva eats the second candy and she immediately gets a phone call from her father on her landline. The call disconnects as he wishes her a happy birthday and despite her repeated attempts at calling him back, no one picks up. The following day at work, Eva is still trying to call her father when John calls her into his office.

John introduces Eva to Myriam (played by Laura Presgurvic) who will be shadowing her and Myriam accidentally reveals that John is planning on cutting Eva’s hours. After work, Sophie picks up Eva and invites her to dinner with some guy named Boris. Eva reluctantly agrees and they head back to Eva’s to get ready.

There we learn that the phone Eva received her father’s call from was disconnected and Sophie suspects that maybe the candy is laced with drugs. Sophie then reveals she didn’t buy the gift, she stole it. What the fuck Sophie?

The two meet with Boris who is a complete dick about Eva’s disability but he’s invited his friend Thomas (played by Vladimir Perrin) who is the exact opposite of Boris.

Eva joins Sophie played by Honorine Magnier in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
Clearly Boris is the dick on his phone.

Although it seems to Eva that Sophie is trying to set Thomas up with her, Sophie lets Eva know that she and Thomas will be continuing their night with drinks alone, leaving Boris to give Eva a ride home. As Boris gets in his car he takes a hit of cocaine and then wakes up Eva to tell her about this great investment app.

Eva isn’t interested and quickly falls asleep on the drive. A short time later Eva wakes up and discovers Boris full-on sexually assaulting her with his hands down her pants. Eva freaks out and yells at him but he tries to force her to give him a blowjob. Eva fights him off and slams on the horn leading Boris to throw her and her wheelchair out of his car.

As he drives off we see it’s now midnight and the evil entity of the advent calendar flashes on the screen as the calendar sounds its alarm. Eva yells for Boris to drop dead and almost as if the advent calendar is granting a wish it springs open a miniature copy of Boris’s car (Candy #5).

Eva’s dog, Marvin, spots the car and tears it apart. At the same time, Boris’s car is attacked by an unseen force but it’s clear the damage being done to the toy car is reflected onto the real car. The next day Eva is at the park when Sophie calls her and tells her Boris was found crushed in his car. 

A few moments later, Eva gets a text message from Boris with a link to the investment app with a gift of 457 euros. Sophie arrives and clicks the link on Eva’s phone to download the app but Eva thinks nothing of it and chooses not to invest. Eva spots a guy she has a crush on and despite Sophie’s encouragement to speak with him, Eva declines.

At midnight Eva opens the next candy and discovers it’s a heart-shaped candy (#6) but doesn’t eat it. The following day she’s at a small cafe in the park and spots her crush, who orders mulled wine, a few tables away from her. Eva orders the same and when the waitress drops off Eva’s, she’s distracted long enough to allow Eva to drop the heart candy into her crush’s drink.

This bullshit immediately works and her crush introduces himself as William (played by Clement Olivieri). We learn Will is a nurse and apparently an all-around nice guy. The two talk for hours and exchange numbers. That night Eva eats the next Advent Calendar candy (#7) which is shaped like a clock and jumps forward in time 72 hours.

Since she hasn’t shown up to work for 4 days, Eva is fired but this also means she did nothing for all that time but sit in her home. We saw the candy for the next three days was eaten (#8, 9, 10) so did nothing happen with those either? This feels like a cop-out by the writers just to speed things along.

Eva calls Will who gives her a ride home and she tells him about the candy but leaves out some details like how she drugged him. After he leaves, Eva realizes the candy wrappers point to one of the stocks that she can invest in, in the app. Eva invests the 457 euros and immediately makes… 9 cents.

That night Eva chooses to ignore the next calendar candy but it opens to Marvin revealing a bone candy (#11). Marvin eats it and leaves the house. The next day Eva finds Marvin covered in blood but it’s not his blood DUN DUN DUNNN. Turns out it’s John’s blood so he’s dead.

A bloody Marvin shows up in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
Yea he’s murdered some but he’s still a good boy

Eva finds John’s necklace around Marvin’s collar and realizes the toy car pieces she found in Marvin’s bowl match Boris’s car. She then makes a large chart detailing all the days she ate candy and who ended up dead which is like leaving evidence of your crimes out in the open. 

That night, the next candy (#12) is another one of those “arise and walk” candies that Eva never ate but this time she does. Feeling her legs move, she decides to take the previous one (#4) and she goes into a seizure. Eva wakes up in the hospital with Will watching over her who tells her she was found outside on the ground holding onto her advent calendar.

That night while still in the hospital and with the advent calendar next to her, midnight strikes, and another patient with a slightly demonic voice brings the calendar to Eva’s bed. The patient appears to know about the calendar and points to the next day that needs to be opened. Eva opens it and feeds the candy (#13) to the patient… the fuck is going on right now?

Isn’t this breaking the rules? 

The woman happily eats the candy and then walks away. It’s implied she died but we’re never shown that or told it, the next scene is Eva back at home. What a weird and unnecessary scene. The next candy (#14) is the same candy that allowed her father to call her despite his Alzheimer’s. 

Eva visits her father and after a brief scene of her step-mom essentially berating her, Eva feeds the candy to her dad. I would point out that this is breaking rule one but the movie doesn’t care at this point. 

Her dad magically appears to be temporarily cured and somehow he knows how the calendar works. He tells her the calendar requires sacrifices and she’ll have to sacrifice him at one point but he’s cool with it. If she doesn’t kill whoever the calendar chooses, it will kill her. Feels like that’s a pretty significant rule to have excluded from the rule list.

The next candy (#15) is an “arise and walk” candy and she decides to eat it in front of Will at the hospital. Miraculously she’s able to walk and feel her legs but it’s only temporary as the next day she’s back in her wheelchair. Will drops her off at the gym where Eva heads to the pool for a workout. On his way back home, Will realizes Eva dropped her keys in his car and heads to her home to drop them off.

After placing them in a pot near the front door, the door opens on its own, and Will enters to investigate. There he finds the large chart Eva made earlier and the calendar. On a small glass-like portion of the calendar the words “Don’t Dump It” appears in reverse so Will decides to dump the calendar in a nearby river.

Turns out this was a bad idea since that demonic being we’ve been seeing flashes of finally appears emerging out of the water as the sky turns a purple hue. The being attacks Will, drags him into the river and drowns him. Somehow this is candy #16.

the Ich monster of the calendar shows up to kill William in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
Oh no the consequences of Will’s actions

Meanwhile, at the pool, Eva has flashes of a vision of Will being murked by the being and falls into the water where she sees Will’s body. When she emerges from the pool she finds herself somehow teleported to the river where Will was killed. The being appears and touches Eva which transports her and the calendar back to her house.

The guy who attempted to flirt with Eva at the start of the movie, Antoine, knocks on her door and tells her he found her stuff, including her chair, at the gym and will leave it by the door. Eva tells him to go away and he quickly leaves. That night, the next candy (#17) distorts Eva’s vision and she finds a broken mirror in her bathroom.

Looking through it she sees Will in the past looking at the advent calendar. Turns out this mirror is the glass-like portion of the calendar that Will was looking at and it was Eva writing “Don’t Dump It”. Since it was a mirror it appeared in reverse to Will.  

Eva tries to warn Will in the past to not dump the calendar in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
Oh so we’re dealing with some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff too

The next day the Calendar slides over to Eva and demands she open the next candy (#18). It then reveals a knife with a dog etched onto it which basically tells her she has to kill Marvin. Eva refuses but the evil entity grabs her by the throat. Eva picks up the knife and we cut to black. 

Sophie, whose been in Germany for the last two weeks, arrives and finds Eva covered in blood and holding onto a dead Marvin in her bathroom. Sophie calls Thomas who helps get rid of Marvin’s body. Since Sophie doesn’t want to leave her alone, she convinces Thomas to have Eva join them on their weekend getaway.

At midnight, Sophie opens the next candy (#19) which is totally a viagra-like pill, and lies to Eva, telling her it was some chewing gum. Sophie gives Eva some gum she already had and Eva notes how she doesn’t feel any changes. 

Sophie takes the candy in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
Maybe it’s a billionaire space rocket pill?

That morning the two head to Thomas’s cabin and Eva has what appears to be a hallucination of the accident that led to her paralysis. Turns out it was Sophie driving the car and Eva was an amazing dancer before the accident. After Eva got a job dancing at the Metropolitan in NYC, Sophie was driving her and wanted to remember the moment by taking a selfie while driving. This led to the accident and Eva’s paralysis.

As the hallucination ends we see Eva and Sophie in Thomas’s cabin and Eva had eaten the next candy (#20). Turns out the hallucination was a memory caused by the candy or maybe it was both, the movie isn’t quite clear. But this does clue Eva into thinking the calendar is going to target Sophie next since she caused the hurt that is her paralysis.

It’s time for the next candy (#21) which is another “arise and walk” candy but Eva doesn’t want to eat it around Sophie as she’s worried it’ll lead to her death. She tells Sophie to leave her alone and to get away but also adds that she doesn’t blame her for anything. Sophie leaves Eva alone in the living room and enters the bedroom with Thomas where she gives him the viagra candy (#19) and it does the trick. 

While they have sex, Eva finds a painting inside the Advent Calendar depicting a scene of someone dead though we don’t see the full thing. On the back, she finds the artist’s name, Alois Hoffman, and his address. 

Eva then hears Sophie scream and after some banging (not the good kind), a bloody and dying Sophie is thrown through the door by a ravenous Thomas. The entity of the Advent Calendar then appears behind Thomas and snaps his neck.

The entity approaches Eva and forces her to eat the candy (#21), we then cut to black. A short time later, Eva walks out of the cabin with the paintings and advent calendar and drives to Alois’s address to ask him about the painting. 

Opening it, it depicts Alois’s family murdered with the Advent Calendar in the corning. Alois denies having made the painting as he’s been blind for 5 years but when he touches it, we see flashes of his memories where he totally kills his family. 

Alois denies painting the warning in The 2021 Shudder exclusive The Advent Calendar
“OH my murder confession painting!”

Alois flips out and tells Eva to leave the house but they’re then interrupted by Alois’s totally alive family who questions what’s going on. Eva realizes, and I’m not sure how she jumps to this wacky conclusion, but she realizes that Alois did kill his family under the instructions of the calendar but once the calendar was complete, time-reversed and everything was undone. 

She adds that Alois made the painting as a warning for the next person who ends up with the calendar, and I will argue that simply writing, “this shit is cursed” would have been a better warning than a painting depicting dead people. 

As Eva is driving, midnight strikes, and this time instead of candy (#22) it’s a doll of Myriam. We then cut to Myriam at home in a bath and everything Eva does to the doll happens to Myriam. Unsurprisingly Eva takes pleasure in killing Myriam. At home, Eva checks the investment app and finds she now has 347 thousand euros to her name. 

Checking into a fancy hotel, Eva waits for the next candy (#23) which is revealed to be the candy that cures her dad but it also comes with a gun. Looks like it’s time to pop pops!

This wouldn’t be FDA-approved.

At her dad’s home, Eva gives him the chocolate allowing him to become lucid. He knows what’s up so he hugs Eva and accepts it’s his time to be sacrificed as Eva reluctantly shoots him.

The next morning Eva calls Antoine to her hotel room and sleeps with him. After she tells him all about the calendar and he doesn’t seem shocked at all. Also, Eva explains that after she eats the final candy she’ll be transported back to December 1st and it will be as if nothing has happened. Again, how the hell does she know this?!

As midnight is about to strike, Eva takes the calendar to the roof of the hotel and records the video from the opening as a warning to the next person. See Alois, this is how a warning is done! She then dances one last time and as the clock strikes midnight. 

Eva places the phone in the calendar’s compartment and opens candy door #24. Unfortunately, it’s a hard candy so not even a good one for the last one. Before she can eat it Antoine interrupts her and tells her she doesn’t have to eat it because rule #2 states “respect all rules UNTIL you open the last door”. He explains this means that after opening the last door the rules no longer apply and she doesn’t have to eat it. 

LOOPHOLE! Also, the movie has been playing pretty fast and loose on the rules so I’m not sure how I feel about the solution to this being a strict literal following of the rules. To prove his point, Antoine reiterates rule 3, “dump it and I’ll kill you” as he dumps the calendar over the roof.

Eva realizes he’s right and internally debates whether she should reverse time and go back to December 1st. Eva screams and we cut to one year later as we see a man holding a baby banging on Eva’s door. He pulls out the phone that Eva put in the advent calendar and plays it. Eva’s door opens and the film ends as he walks in but we don’t see Eva so we don’t know what she chose.


The Advent Calendar is okay but could have been so much better. The movie has some pretty good acting and an interesting premise but where it lacks is its character development and connecting threads. You spend most of the movie watching this curse affect Eva’s life in some pretty gruesome ways but you don’t really care if she dies at the end or what toll she has to pay.

We barely know anything about her until the final third of the movie where Sophie finds some dancing brochures and we see the hallucination/memory of her accident. It feels like a big part of Eva’s motivation to keep going with the calendar was the possibility of her walking again but we don’t see just how much she wants to walk again in any point of the movie. If there had been any scenes of her looking over her dancing brochures or her lamenting over the fact that she can’t walk, that would have made her motivation feel more real.

There were also the hallucinations that happened once at the start at one time in the last third but they’re never brought up again. Sophie at one point mentions Eva is taking meds for them but what was the point of even having the hallucinations in the movie. Had there been a subplot of her trying to convince people of the curse but it’s dismissed as hallucinations, then it would have made sense.

The movie lacks internal conflict despite the easy set up for it and because it’s so noticeable, it hurts the movie. There’s also just a lot of threads and unanswered questions that are loosely connecting each day of this movie. Why does her dad know about the calendar’s sacrifices? Why does the entity use Marvin to kill people but then does it himself? What did the candies do that Eva ate when she jumped three days into the future?

But the biggest problem I have with this movie is its inconsistency following its own rules. Why is allowing others to eat the candy allowed? Rule one is “If you eat one candy, you must eat them all” not “if one candy is eaten, then they all must be eaten by literally anyone”. We saw Will, Marvin, Thomas, Eva’s dad, and a weird lady all eat a piece of candy. The movie establishes rules are important, then says “nah actually we’re pretty fast and loose with the rules, anyone can eat a piece of candy”, but then ends with “Rule 2 literally says this and we stick to the rules hard.”

The movie feels like the writer had a bunch of different good ideas and forced them into this one movie without worrying too much about how to connect them all, incidentally that makes the movie a metaphorical advent calendar.

Overall I can only recommend The Advent Calendar if you need something horror-related that’s entertaining on while you do something else so you don’t care if you miss some scenes.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 81%

Metacritic – 51

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: