Sunday, February 11, 2024

A Creature was Stirring, on DVD

There are two reasons we have so many Christmas horror movies, one good and one bad. Some filmmakers probably enjoy defiling a Christian holiday, but for others, it is a convenient way to assemble a group of characters and keep them confined inside, sheltering from the cold. Weirdly, nobody seems to have plans for the holiday in this film, not even a pair of sibling Christian missionaries. Of course, they want in from the cold, but what they find is even worse in Damien LeVeck’s A Creature was Stirring, which releases Tuesday on DVD and BluRay.

It is immediate clear to viewers Faith Larsen has a very difficult relationship with her daughter Charm, over and beyond having named her “Charm.” Initially, we assume she has a particularly nasty case of Munchausen-by-proxy, but there soon seems to be good reason to worry if Charm’s temperature falls outside a 102-104-ish range.

Creature has been promoted as a monster movie (see title) and there is a spiky thing on the DVD cover, it should not be too spoilery to mention a monster might come out. That makes it rather awkward when Liz and Kory invite themselves in, mistakenly believing the house is empty. They quickly learn how wrong they were when Larsen whacks Kory’s knee with a bat tricked out like the one Jeffrey Dean Morgan wields on The Walking Dead.

It seems strange two missionaries would not be attending services on Christmas night and yet here they are, apologizing profusely and pleading relief from the cold, as well as medical treatment for Kory. Being a nurse, it is hard for Larsen to refuse. Her medical training also helped her analyze Charm’s weird condition. Unfortunately, Liz will misdiagnosis the situation, suspecting a sinister case of abuse, whereas Kory starts to get the monstrous nature of the danger they face.

This could very well be the least Christmasy Christmas horror movie ever. Maybe the Larsens would not have plans to observe, but surely the missionaries would. Frankly, the title feels more like a marketing gimmick that borders on a bait-and-switch.

LeVeck creates a tensely claustrophobic vibe, but Shannon Wells’ screenplay is too obviously trying to fool the audience. The final twist is more likely to generate groans than gasps—and will definitely leave you questioning the investment of your time in this movie.

Chrissy Metz shows tremendous range and commitment as Larsen, but she is often undermined by the questionable script. Scout Taylor-Compton and Connor Paolo are believable as stressed-out siblings, but they never credibly sound or act like Christian missionaries. The blame for that probably falls more on LeVeck and Wells, but it will be an issue for viewers just the same.

Unfortunately, this film just does not work. Yet, its lack of strong holiday connections means the viewing experience is just the same in February as in December. Not recommended,
A Creature was Stirring releases this Tuesday (2/13) on DVD and BluRay.