Christmas-themed horror generally tends to be hit or miss for me. Aside from a few standouts throughout the years it’s not a genre that I actively seek out, but when I read the synopsis for A Creature Was Stirring my interest was piqued. Hosting a cast of some familiar names and helmed by Damien LeVeck, the director of one of my favorite films of the pandemic era, The Cleansing Hour, just added to my curiosity.
Nurse Faith (Chrissy Metz) takes extraordinary measures to protect her teenage daughter (Annalise Basso) who suffers from an unusual affliction. As a blizzard moves in, their strange nightly routine is interrupted by two intruders recovering addict Kory (Connor Paolo) and his ultra-religious sister (Scout Taylor-Compton). Faith spends the rest of the night trying to hide the secrets her house holds while attempting to figure out the mysterious duo’s motives.
This film starts off strong with a frantic mother trying to control the monster inside her daughter. This type of opening sets the tone for what felt like a promising creature-based flick with the audience only being let in on the bare minimum building a palpable atmospheric tone. Then the intruders are introduced and the train begins to wobble on the tracks before completely going off the rails in the third act. Without revealing too much, this film feels like three different stories in one and not in a good way either. While skillfully blending sub-genres and storylines can often lead to a fresh approach at horror this screenplay takes that and just lays out a plot that had me doubling back multiple times to quell the confusion.
The cast did what they could with the script but to me the dialogue felt plastic at times. I will give credit where credit is due though, for a first attempt at a screenplay, Shannon Wells made a valiant effort. It’s not terrible by any means but it suffers from trying to fit too many ideas into a small space. I understand what he was attempting to do but just think you could have arrived in fewer steps. LeVeck saved this for me though. His stylized delivery is the kind I crave in a film like this. From the creative shot framing with colors that are simultaneously dark yet vibrant to the mix of practical creature effects and neon flashes of CG rotoscoping overlays, this film looked amazing!
A Creature Was Stirring is one of those types of films that was beautiful to look at as long as I didn’t focus too hard on the plot. For that, it’s going to earn an average score from me. It has some moments but nothing really stands out. Sometimes that’s what you need though, just mindless entertainment. This flick isn’t going to be one that people are screaming from the rooftops about but it can adequately fill that hole for Christmas horror that you have.
If you want to check this one out for yourself it’s in select theaters now and VOD on December 12th.