Monday, December 12, 2016

12 Deadly Days: It’s a Blumhouse Christmas

Here comes Blumhouse bearing holiday gifts. They ought to be in a festive mood, because Christmas came early for them when they released Ouija: Origin of Evil. It was probably the least anticipated pre/sequel in the history of cinema, yet it has grossed over $80 million and generated some of the company’s best reviews since Whiplash. However, the horror specialists are not going to give us ten entitled twits jumping about. The small town of Saturn, California is definitely in for a macabre holiday season, but creators Chris Cullari & Jennifer Raite go for laughs just as much as scares judging from the first three inter-connected episodes of 12 Deadly Days (trailer here), which releases today on YouTube Red.

The Cratchit Brothers moved their paranormal investigation service to Saturn based on one of Miles Cratchit’s visions. He’s got a bit of the shine himself, but he does not always get the full picture. Business has been slow, but Cratchit’s vision might be vindicated when they get a call from the richest man in town. His name happens to be Ebenezer and he is being haunted by three ghosts, but you should have known that already.

Episodes one and three definitely look for humor in their supernatural premises, but the second half-hour-ish installment plays it relatively straight. (Will this continue as a pattern? You tell me.) The scene shifts to the Russell Christmas tree lot seen briefly at the end of the previous episode (presumably another recurring pattern). It seems this is always the best lot in the country, but this year the proprietor has had to journey much further north to find worthy firs. Apparently, he brought something back with him, which promptly kills him, leaving his semi-estranged tree-hugger daughter Willow to figure out nature is evil and must be eradicated.

While 12 Deadly Days reportedly features many “YouTube stars” in each episode’s cast, they wisely also brought in enough professionals to carry the dramatic load. Betty Gabriel (co-star of The Purge: Election Year, which figures, right?) is a good example, playing Willow Russell as a smart, cool and collected genre protag.

There is a bit of a switcheroo in episode three, when a nice girl vampire unknowingly falls for nebbish young fellow born into a vampire hunter clan. You know the hunters are bad guys, because they are led by Gregory Itzin, who played the treasonous Pres. Charles Logan on 24. Again, the humor is pretty goofy, but the blood helps it go down more smoothly.

The first quarter of 12 Deadly Days is a lot of fun, but probably not so much that every TV critic in America will subscribe to YouTube Red so they can catch up with four through twelve. Still, it definitely qualifies as healthier holiday horror than those exploitative Santa slasher movies. Looking recommendable for horror comedy fans based on what what’s available for the media, 12 Deadly Days releases today (12/12) on YouTube Red.