‘Elves’ or rather ‘Nisser’ is a Danish horror-thriller series streaming on Netflix directed by Roni Ezra from a script written by Stefan Jaworski.
The first season of the series contains six short episodes spanning 25 minutes each.
‘Elves’ follows the story of Josephine Svane, a young girl in her teens who arrives at the coast of Armand Island with her family consisting of dad Mads, her mother Charlotte, and elder brother Kasper.
The lovely family is planning to stay in a small farmhouse that has been lent to the quartet by Mads colleague Jespersen.
On their way to the cabin, they accidentally hit something with their car, and when they stop to check what it is, they notice some scratches on the car bumper and some sticky tar-like substance.
Josephine, being the animal lover, is extremely concerned and walks towards the woods but is suddenly stopped by a local hunter who directs the Svane family to a coastal road and advises them to refrain from using private lands for their own safety.
As the family settles into their cabin, Josephine, the free-spirited teen, wanders off to the woods again and stumbles upon an old barn near the farmhouse.
As she roams around, she spots a claw spotted with the tar-like substance they encountered earlier on the road when their car ran over some sort of an animal.
Josephine is concerned that the animal they hit is probably out there, and she needs to find it before something worse happens to it, but her mom strongly warns her not to wander around.
Driven by her hormones and stupidly fatal love for animals, Josephine sneaks out of a window at night, finds a creature near the fence of a park that looks similar to the ones found in the Jurassic Park movies, brings it back to the house with her and hides it away in the barn she found earlier.
Josephine comes back the following morning and realizes the animal she presumably rescued the previous night is a baby elf who she starts nursing back to health without the knowledge of her family and the community until a herd of elves comes around looking for their missing young one.
The series is generally packed with cliches, from all the actors executing their most stereotypical personification, to parents that never seem to be around when kids get lost, to scenarios which would have been avoided via communication, lack of security in an area that must obviously be guarded, people doing things alone when they should be in a group among many others.
The plot is quite straightforward, considering it is a Christmas movie, and it is highly predictable. One can already guess what is going to happen in the next episode.
The acting isn’t the best, and at some point, one finds themselves rooting for the monsters instead of the main characters due to the lack of intelligence in their development.
When viewed from a normal moral and ethical perspective, one is able to see how absurdly innocent and destructive Josephine is.
Her belief and reasoning is perplexing, as she thinks that monsters should be saved by humans regardless of who gets killed in the process or the damage they do to humans. Her parents just say nothing about this unintelligible perspective, resulting in plenty of good people getting killed.
When it comes to the film’s takeaway, one can’t help to wonder what the point of making the series was. Questions like whether the message is meant to be that children should listen to their parents’ failure to which bad things will happen to them or other people around them? Or when people die because of a child’s consistent mistake in spite of all the warnings and advisories from the locals, should the child’s bad behavior be forgiven because she is 13 years old?
The quality of the cinematography is great, but to some extent, the location of the movie doesn’t make sense for the elves. This forest is supposed to be a nature reserve but doesn’t look like it. That Christmas feeling is also missing in the film, and overall, nothing really feels realistic regarding the atmosphere.
The writer attempts to reverse the horror genre trope of the dumb and loud characters dying first. At the same time, the witty, more sensible ones survive, which instead of making the movie more captivating, intriguing, and suspenseful, it becomes a sort of annoying.
It really doesn’t make sense that this character, which for starters is a stranger in the area, who wouldn’t listen to anything they are told and has the dumbest reasoning ever, gets to have a happy ending while all the characters trying to drill sense into her thick personalities become a snack to the elves.
The dubbing audio, too, is not the best, and it’s pretty irritating when one is watching the series. The intro music is great, though, and the animation of the elves looks nice.
In general, the storyline idea is fantastic, but it is poorly developed and destroyed by incorporating cliches. Thanks to poor character development, directing, and possibly casting, the acting doesn’t do the hole-riddled narrative any good.
The series, too, has some scenes of blood spurting everywhere and bodies being dismembered. It has tons of scary moments that are not suitable for kids; hence It is advisable to keep this movie away from those little munchkins.
‘Elves’ is one of those projects that have quite a promising future that could become a franchise or span several seasons. However, the perspective the writers took forced this title to fall flat on its face.
If only the filmmakers could have focused on remaining original and sticking to making the story uniquely captivating, then the results could have been otherwise.
The show is not the greatest series on the streaming giant but still worth checking out if one has plenty of free time available. It is also short and easy to binge; hence won’t take much time to get through the entire season that is already out.