The 12 Disasters of Christmas (2012, of course)

There was going to be a category in this non-event I was going to call “Christmas-adjacent” but then this one doesn’t quite fit smoothly into that; I mean, it has Christmas right in the title. But what it has to do with Christmas is pretty slight.

You have this idyllic little town in the mountains. Beautiful place, trees all around. It’s apparently Christmas Eve, and the 18th birthday of Jacie (Magda Apanowicz), the daughter of Joseph (Ed Quinn), a local shopkeeper who’s pretty ambivalent toward the building of a MegaDeals mall that will block access to his favorite climbin’ mountain. There’s been some weird weather lately – unseasonal heat waves, mass bird deaths, red water running from the taps. Jacie’s grandmother gives her a ring along with some cryptic utterings that she should have given it to her sooner, that she should have talked to her about it sooner, and then Grandmas gets impaled on the latest climate disaster: Giant icicles falling from the sky like spears. Oh, did I mention Jacie’s donning the ring gave her a tremendous shock and made the weird birthmark on her arm glow?

Grandma! Noooooo!

Let me spare you a lot of exposition – although the unveiling of this berserk mythos is half the fun of the movie, so just stop right here if necessary – this movie likes to trot out the term geomancy quite a bit. Turns out geomantic forces build up over centuries until such time that they can destroy the world unless the Chosen One gathers five rings and stands in exactly the right place at the right time. The last time this happened was during the age of the Mayans, and this is all explained in an ancient picture book with an arcane compass in the cover that will lead our plucky heroes to the rings. And since it is, yes, 2012, it is high time.

“Karen! There’s a cheap CGI tornado right behind you!”

Okay, a visual guide is very handy, but don’t you think the Mayans could have done a bit more in warning us, besides leaving behind calendars that ended in 2012, and spawning a lucrative market of doomsaying literature and cultism? Well, turns out the laugh’s on you, Mayan doubters, because the plucky indigenous Mesoamericans did – by writing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, a codified explanation of what was going to happen. (Come on, you picked that up from the necessary five golden rings, didn’t you?)

The filmmakers don’t push that agenda too far, because I’m still puzzling over what lyrics are connected to which of the various doom events that unfold. It’s also to their credit that they keep things moving fast enough to minimize thinking too much about what is unspooling before you. To do this, they wind up ripping off a couple of Stephen King tropes, like a force field dome shutting off the area completely from the outside world, and the villainous Mr. Megadeals himself, Kane (Roark Critchlow) getting ahold of the Mayan book and misinterpreting the final image to mean that Jacie has to die to save the world (another thing you should have noticed by now were the Biblical character names).

Pretty much every disaster that comes our way is of the cheap CGI variety that turns you into cheap CGI so you can shatter or dissolve (also: I had no idea electricity could make you explode). They apparently did pay for a life-size icicle spear, though, because they use that one twice. None of this makes a damn lick of sense, but as I said, it moves quickly and the tension-mounting moments are well-executed and exciting. It’s not something that would substitute for an actual Christmas movie, mind, but it’s a far better alternative to treacly Hallmark movies that leave a film of saccharine on your TV set.

6 Comments

  1. Well, you get some Xmas cookies and a pint of special eggnog for taking one for the team here.

    • SOMEbody had to do it!

      • Well, I did sit through Camel Spiders (again), so I’ll go bake some more cookies and see if there’s any rum left.

      • Oh God what is wrong with us? At least I can still shake my head while laughing.

      • Yeah, that 2nd time was thanks to a friend’s kid with a deathly fear of spiders but a love for cheesy movies. I think some sort of cure happened or pre-holiday miracle as the film was pronounced “not scary, but pretty bad!” – I still wanted a gallon of rum, though.

      • You deserved it.


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