Content Warning: this article contains some descriptions of sexual violence.
I’ve seen a lot of movies that try their best to be as edgy as possible. I’ve seen metal bands accidentally summoning Satan, children being murdered by an ice cream man and even a serial killer coming back from the dead as a snowman, yet never in my life have I seen something so thoroughly edgy as the 1989 film “Elves.”
Now, this movie isn’t just a normal edgy movie, as the title of my article makes pretty obvious. It goes further than anything I’ve ever watched before with the sheer quantity of messed up things that happen throughout this movie.
The movie starts with a group of friends in the woods trying to do some witchcraft because their lives are boring. Our heroine accidentally cuts herself, so they cancel and all head home. But oh no, some blood spilled on the ground, and a hand reaches out. Guess there’s an elf now that doesn’t matter for a long time.
The girl gets home to be caught by her mother, who immediately punishes her by saying she is shutting down the girl’s bank account, full of money that the girl had made herself by working. I know that this is technically legal, but this immediately made me hate the mother, which is only enforced by her actions later on, even if she does turn out to have a tragic backstory.
The girl takes a shower only to have her younger brother peep on her and exclaim how big her breasts are. If you think this level of incestuous stuff is bad, just you wait.
I also hate the brother’s character in this film, as almost every other word out of his mouth is a curse that feels incredibly forced. You know, I don’t just hate these two, I hate almost every character in this movie except for one, the recently sober ex-detective hobo who ends up working as the mall Santa at the mall where the girl works later in the film. He’s the only one who behaves like a real person, and I’m happy to see a character who is trying to improve themselves.
At work the next day, the girl and her friends proceed to fail the Bechdel test for just about every sentence, as they never talk about anything other than boys. During her break, our protagonist goes over to the current mall Santa, someone around her age that she obviously has the hots for. She sits on his lap in front of the line of kids, and asks him what he wants for Christmas, only from him to grope her thighs and whisper “oral” into her ear.
I felt so unclean watching that I had to pause and wash my hands.
They get yelled at for PDA in the middle of the mall in uniform, but instead of understanding they just roll their eyes as if he was being unreasonable. Also, why is she still working if she doesn’t have a bank account anymore? It’s not like there was any way for her to get the money herself at the time, so why would she not just quit since she isn’t getting anything anyway?
Santa goes to the back room to do some lines of cocaine, only to get stabbed to death by the elf. At the same time, the mother is at home trapping the girl’s cat in a pillowcase, drowning it in the toilet, then burying it in the backyard.
This is where hobo guy gets introduced, not having a job and just evicted from his mobile home. He begs for a job from the manager of the place, who seems to be an old friend, and he is finally given the job as the new Santa despite him asking for security. He takes it because he would rather have something than nothing at all.
The elf then terrorizes the brother in the night, scratching his face and making him wake everyone else up by screaming. The kid is fine, the elf is gone, and the wheelchair grandfather seems like he knows something about the elf that the mother wishes he wouldn’t talk about.
We learn that the grandpa is a Nazi who is somehow connected to a group attempting to summon Satan using “the purest Aryan.” He also seems to have some connection to the elf, but that comes later.
The girls meet up at the mall after dark only for the elf to kill the other two, with the hobo Santa saving the main girl. At home, the mother doesn’t believe her about her friends, and they begin fighting. This is where we learn why there hasn’t been a father in the picture.
He’s the grandpa in the wheelchair.
That’s right. To create the perfect Aryan, he raped his daughter, which is why she is so evil to everyone. Doesn’t excuse everything, but it gives us some sympathy for her before she is killed by an elf pushing a radio into the bathtub with her.
We then learn that the way the antichrist will be created is by the elf raping the main girl, who is now being chased by not only the elf but several Nazis who talked with the wheelchair guy earlier.
She is chased into the woods where the movie began, and she is then pushed to the ground and almost overtaken by the elf. At the last second, she remembers some of the witchcraft stuff and stabs the ground she had bled on earlier with the crystal her father/grandfather had given her, killing the elf.
The scene of her and her brother walking away alive then cuts to a fetus and the credits roll, hinting that somehow the antichrist was still created.
Despite how edgy it is, the cinematography isn’t totally horrible, but whenever we see the elf’s point of view, they blur the edges of the screen in a way that just looks bad. I genuinely enjoyed the acting and writing of the hobo Santa, and the elf didn’t look too bad when it wasn’t the focus of the scene.
I rate movies from 10 to -10, with negative being so bad its good. This movie sits at -6 because even though there were many plot points and scenes that made me uncomfortable, I can’t act like I didn’t have a good time laughing at the ridiculousness of it all with my friends. Wouldn’t suggest this movie unless you know you can overlook its many, many flaws, because boy are they hard to overlook at times.
This week’s shout out is to monster designs, and the right way to use them. If you have a very unrealistic monster, try your best to show as little of it as possible. Keep them in the background, or with lighting so dark you can’t see it right. Don’t do what this movie did and show headshots of your monster constantly.
This article was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon’s Bad Movie Showcase.
Editing done by Evan Newell