an elf hiding in an attic in Elves series





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

It’s Christmastime! A time when our screens are filled with brightly lit trees and Victorian ghosts and flying reindeer and, of course, elves!

So when you open up Netflix and see a new show called Elves prominently displayed, you might think it’s just another cute seasonal show. And if you watch a lot of cute, kid-friendly shows, chances are the thumbnail picture you’ll see is of an adorable, big-eyed creature being held by a young teen girl. So cute it looks! So innocent! Why, by all appearances, you might think it’d be at home on Disney+.

Yeah, about that …

Santa’s Little Killers

The Svanes—father Mads, mother Charlotte, teen Kasper and young Josefine—are just looking for a nice, calm, family vacation, away from all of Europe’s cities and social media, away from the buzz and the bluster. So they rent an out-of-the-way house on an out-of-the-way island: Aarmand Island, just off the coast of Denmark. It’s a lovely, if gloomy, little place, sparsely populated by people but covered in trees.

Oh, and elves.

There are elves there, too—not right jolly old elves, not elves on shelves, not even elves that want to be dentists. No, these elves just want blood. Lots and lots of blood. And boy, do they get it.

They start out cute enough. Young Josefine sees that immediately when she spies a baby elf in serious need of bandaging. (Her dad accidentally hit it with a car.) She names the thing Kee-Ko and hopes to keep it forever and ever, even if it does enjoy eating cats.

But it’s soon clear that when these elves grow up, they’re not nearly so cuddly. The sparse island folks have kept them for years locked behind an electric fence for fear they’d tear through the countryside and kill everyone in sight. And, as we see, they’ve all sorts of reasons to be terrified.

See, the elves think this little island is theirs. Only the fence (and occasional beefy sacrifices) keep the critters at bay. And if that fence should lose its electricity … well, let’s just say that these elves won’t be busy making toys.

Elves, Frodo Sir! Elves! And Look, They’re AAARRHGH!

If your idea of a grand Christmas is one filled with blood and gore, where profanity fills the air like snowflakes and adults attempt to sacrifice children to the strange beasts of the woods, well, Elves may be just the show for you. Also, remind me not to come to your house for Christmas dinner.

No matter how Netflix may try to frame it in your queue, Elves is a straight-up horror series, filled with monstrous creatures and even more monstrous villagers. And if you get bored with the show’s carnage and gloom and pay attention to its relationships, you’ll find that even the family at the story’s core ain’t so admirable, either. Kids snipe at their parents, run away and keep secrets they really shouldn’t keep. Parents try to impress their kids with potty humor and profanity.

If you ask me, the Elves here should stay on the shelf—and off the screen.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 28, 2021: “Aarmand Island”

The Svane family arrives on Aarmand Island and quickly asks directions to their rental home. Directions are quicky dispatched to them, and they’re cautioned to “follow the island’s coastal road.” But Mads Svane decides to take a short-cut through the forest and soon thwops into something. He assumes it’s just a pothole or something (even though black, sticky muck covers the bumper), but he doesn’t have time to investigate further: An islander tells them to get off the road right quick.

But Josefine, the Svane’s young teen girl, knows they hit something, and it might need their help. She forgoes the family Christmas festivities and sneaks off to the woods by herself, searching for the injured whatever. And she finds it.

The show actually opens with a sacrifice. A man (the same guy who warned the Svanes off the road) drags a live cow through a gate in an electric fence, ties it up and leaves. We soon see blood splatter wooden posts and trees, as well as the pitiful bellowing of the cow (obviously beaten alive off camera).

Mads really enjoys talking about defecation with his oldest kid, Kasper. He recounts how Kasper used to run around without a diaper when he was little, and he sometimes just pooped on the floor. And when the family reaches their rustic accommodations, Mads promises that he’ll dig a hole in the ground for Kasper when he wants to do his business. We also see the man and the cow tread through a lot of brown goop.

Josefine throws a fit when family members try to craft their own decorations. “You always decide [what we do]!” she shouts. “You never care what I want!” She calls her mother “annoying” and nearly disobeys her—making moves to ride off into the woods on her bike before her father also tells her to stay put. (Instead of openly defying them, she secretly defies them, leaping out of her bedroom window when the rest of her clan is preoccupied.) Kasper has a crush on apparently the only teen girl on the island.

Characters say the f-word twice, the s-word another two times and utter both “a–” and an abuse of Jesus’ name.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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