If these are what Santa’s Elves are like, No, thank you. You can keep them at the North Pole. Elves is the new Danish holiday horror Series on Netflix that I have been looking forward to checking out. But should you add it to your list?
Elves [Nisser] Review
Hoping to reconnect over Christmas, a family of four travels to a remote island in the Danish archipelago, only to find it controlled by members of a strongly religious community living in balance with fierce creatures in the Woods revealed to be elves.
When the girl in the family finds and brings home a baby elf, she inadvertently disrupts the balance and throws everyone on the island into a life or death battle for faith, family, and pure survival.
So this is on the darker side of holiday tales, and it’s no spoiler that this show will contain some elven creatures because I mean, come on, that’s the title of the series.
This is a super quick binge at six episodes that are each about 24 ish minutes long. Now this series can also be a standalone with the possibility for more, but if they don’t continue the tail, it feels fairly contained where you can be satisfied with the conclusion.
So this family of four heads to a remote island to get away and celebrate Christmas without distraction. There’s no WiFi and barely even any cell service, so they’re pretty much roughing it.
We’ve got Mum and dad and a teenage son and then a younger daughter, Josefine, who is probably in her very early teenage years. Now the family has an odd dynamic where they joke and tease each other a lot, with some of the ribbon being kind of pointed.
Now, Josefine is the star of the story, and I love how naturally inquisitive she is.
When the family arrives on the island, it’s clear that visitors aren’t a normal thing, which then begs the question of why a cabin would be available to rent, especially once it’s revealed what all goes on at this island.
Her inquisitiveness does get her and everyone else into trouble, but she’s well meaning and honestly, I mean, if certain characters would have just been more forthright with information rather than trying to be all secretive, some of the problems probably could have been avoided.
But either way, Josefine is fairly sympathetic, especially because she’s a caring and a loving character. I mean, while some of the others on screen are colder or detached, she is certainly more compassionate and concerned for the welfare of all of those around her.
This is billed as a sort of horror, but I gotta say it’s never really scary. There are some tense moments because of a chase, or maybe a situation where a character might be in some peril. But I never really felt the heebie-jeebies or any form of dread.
I think that could be because this is tamed down for a broader audience. Instead of going full on Gore and violence, the show shies away from showing most of that violence, but we do get to see the aftermath and even some blood splatter when it’s called for.
So not only is the setting for the show a contained area being just a remote island, but the cast itself is also contained, with very few characters being shown and having a real presence.
There’s a sequence that involves some sort of religious ceremony. We’ll resee a handful of residents, but they never get any development, so there is no consequence to the story.
And the ceremony is so vague and never repeated that it feels just almost out of place in the story. That’s probably my biggest complaint of the show. I mean, not that some very obscure characters don’t have development, but that all of the characters are pretty much strangers to us.
There’s an exchange of dialogue between the woman that kind of runs the island and two of her congregants, and the words are meant to carry weight, but because we don’t know who these people are, the words and then the future actions, they’re just completely meaningless.
I like some of the interactions with the characters, and I feel that there was an opportunity to give the players also more depth. I mean, yeah, sure, it would have made the show and episodes longer, but I wouldn’t have minded that at all.
It would have built out the lore so well to give us background on some of the island residents to then dive more into the history on the island itself, which then could make the story of the elves even more engaging and interesting.
And now, while the story that we get is intriguing, it could have been spectacular with added expansion to everything. When we get to see the elves in this, I really like the creature design.
I mean, these don’t look like what I picture in my mind when I think, yes, I get images of Legolas pop into my head or Santa’s Helpers, but these are proper wild creatures with sharp nails and mouthfuls of razor teeth.
And I think a lot of the time that we see the elves, they’re done with practical effects, which I really appreciate, and there are some jerky movements to them, so I don’t know if they’re mechanical and that’s just how they moved.
or if it’s an actual character choice to have them move like the film is just skipping frames so that it gives them a more horror-like feel.
Either way, though, they’re slightly creepy, and I love how the show uses the surrounding environment to enhance some of their qualities.
As I’d mentioned, this is a quick bench, and the episodes truly went by faster than I had expected, and I think a lot of that is due to the lack of character development and even story depth.
So the story basically just thrusts us into a situation where Josefine meets and elves and then bad things happen, leading the village into a race against time to solve the issue.
Now the urgency is good and we can feel the anxiety created by that. But I just imagine how much more intense the show could have been had more time been spent building out the lore, which then makes everything that happens more consequential.
There’s a character in this that is darkly funny, and I’m not sure if they were written that way or if it’s just the dialogue and delivery that make it so.
But the lady that runs the island is named Karen, and she is an extremely blunt and forthright person when it comes to certain information as it pertains to Josefine.
What she says can’t be taken as harsh, but the brutal honesty was unexpected, causing me to chuckle at the directness of her words.
So overall, I had higher hopes for Elves. While I did enjoy the show, really liked the character design, and I loved the story concept. The lack of narrative depth and character development did prevent me from becoming truly invested in all of it.
I liked how dark the tale wanted to go and hedged around becoming. But all in all, it was fairly tame with lore that feels like it was only scratching the surface of a compelling legend.
I would have gladly watched an additional ten or more minutes per episode if it meant getting folklore that was rich in detail and emotion. There’s no sex or nudity. There is some profanity and some violence.
I am going to give Elves (Nisser) a C.
What’s a good show or movie that revolves around folklore that you’ve seen recently. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Guys thank you so much for reading the review of the new Netflix Series Elves [Nisser] (2021). See you next time with another review.
Elves [Nisser] Trailer
Here is the trailer of the new Netflix Series Elves [Nisser] (2021). This Netflix Series tells the story of a Christmas vacation turns into a nightmare for a teenager and her family when they discover an ancient menace that stalks their island getaway.