With the holiday season right around the corner, we can’t help but feel a little giddy about the impending Christmas carols, iced gingerbread cookies and perfectly wrapped gifts piled beneath an ornately decorated tree. Not to mention the countless binge-worthy holiday films full of cheerful, fat Santa Clauses and adorable, pointy-eared elves. However, Netflix’s new mini-series “Elves” presents viewers with a very different take on the most wonderful time of the year.
The six-episode show is far from merry, because when the Svane family decides to spend their Christmas on Aarmand, a remote Danish island, they slowly discover that there’s a good reason it’s not a popular holiday destination.
Immediately upon arrival, the Svanes receive unwelcoming and unusually suspicious warnings from the locals, who seem perturbed by the visitors’ encroachment on their land. As the family drives to their new home for the upcoming days, they hit what they believe to be a pothole. However, after exiting their car, they discover a mysterious black slime smeared on the front of the vehicle and a hauntingly large electric fence parallel to the dirt road they stand on. They are quickly greeted by an unfriendly townsman who warns them to stay off of that road and far away from whatever lies beyond the barricaded woods.
Unfortunately for the Svanes, their daughter Josefine (Sonja Steen, debut) cannot let the incident go. She is determined to uncover the secret Aarmand’s people are trying so desperately to keep hidden behind a huge barrier, but little does she know that what lives beyond the fence should remain beyond the fence.
For any avid fans of “Stranger Things,” especially those who don’t mind subtitles, “Elves” just may be your new obsession. With its mix of drama, science fiction and horror, one could argue that the new series was influenced by its legendary predecessor. Nevertheless, the Svanes don’t compare to Eleven and her motley crew; though “Elves” appeals to a similar audience as “Stranger Things,” it doesn’t match the quality of this fellow sci-fi series.
Objectively, “Elves” is an engaging watch: An island terrorized by savage woodland elves with carnivorous appetites is most definitely an attention grabber. Its short episodes make for ideal binge-watching material, but they also create rushed plots that prevent the audience from forming substantial connections with the show’s characters.
In fact, throughout the series it becomes increasingly difficult to sympathize with Josephine. While the viewer can relate to her dissatisfaction with being treated like a child and her desire to rebel, each decision Josephine makes further emphasizes that she is exactly what she doesn’t want to be: an ignorant little girl.
By placing herself in precarious situations that are extremely avoidable, Josephine’s character undoubtedly pushes the plot forward; however, her blatant stupidity unintentionally causes the audience to feel agitated, creating an undesirable rift between them and the show’s main character.
While “Elves” could use some improvement and possibly more likable characters, it most definitely doesn’t lack creativity. Its chilling and unsettling twist on Christmas is not a familiar phenomenon when it comes to the screen. So while this six-episode fantastical horror may not be Netflix’s next acclaimed sci-fi series, it is an addicting watch nonetheless. The audience will crave answers, and much like Josephine, they will be itching to learn what lies behind the fence. With that being said, for lovers of Santa’s adorable, pointy-eared helpers, “Elves” may not be the show for you.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.