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Yule Log (2023) Review

What would Christmas be without a Yule Log? To make sure we don’t have to worry about it, Mark Polonia has followed up such wonderful seasonal films as Feeders 2: Slay Bells and Sister Krampus with Yule Log, a festive tale of witchery and vengeance from beyond the grave.

The film begins with a lecture on witches and witch hunting, concluding with the tale of Drucinda of the Woods, who was nailed to a tree and left for the ravens. But not before casting an unspecified curse on the woods. In the present, Robin (Jamie Morgan, Camp Blood 666 Part 2: Exorcism of the Clown, Motorboat) survives a car crash only to have Drucinda cast a spell on her.

Unaware of this, Charles (Jeff Kirkendall, Natasha Nighty’s Boudoir of Blood, Amityville Exorcism) and Roy (Tim Hatch, Return to Splatter Farm, Teddiscare) are about to pick up their buddy Earl (Michael Korotitsch, Amityville in Space, Feeders 3: The Final Meal). He recently lost his wife, and they don’t want him to be alone for the holidays, so they’re going to spend it in a cabin in the woods.

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On the way to the cabin someone, or something runs across the road almost causing them to crash, and a stop for gas comes with a warning about the cabin, and January 7th, The Night of the Mothers. Somebody should have warned them about chopping up trees with a spike in them, because that’s exactly what they do to get firewood.

Up to this point, Yule Log has at least had slightly better production values than a typical Mark Polonia film. The car accident looks to be stock or news footage rather than CGI, and we see three different masked and hooded figures. Of course, we also get plenty of talking heads on the TV telling us about Christmas traditions and Robin wandering aimlessly through the trees.

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Once they burn the cursed wood, we get lots of Evil Dead style shaky cam footage, vines crawling through the woods and the road being replaced by forest. But rather than go there, it turns into Joe D’Amato’s Troll 3 aka The Crawlers as the vines cause a car to blow up in a burst of awful CGI and tear the first person dumb enough to try and escape apart. There’s no real effects, the camera just gets covered in red goo that’s supposed to be blood.

There’s also the usual lack of regard for anything approaching continuity. The fireplace in the cabin looks nothing like the fireplace video that stands in for it in some scenes. When Robin has a flashback to the accident, she’s driving an entirely different make and model. They’re not even the same colour. And the tree with Drucinda’s spike is old and rotted, the firewood they bring back is in prime shape.

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The screenplay by Aaron Drake (House Squatch, Virus Shark) probably could have been made into something decent with a bit more budget and effort. But Polonia just goes through the motions until the anti-climactic battle with the witch and then a dragon that looks like an 80s cartoon version of King Ghidorah all bathed in lots of bad CGI fire.

Still, as Mark Polonia’s films go, Yule Log is far from the worst. It’s far from the best either, but at least it’s never as mind-numbingly dull as something like Dune World. If you’re a regular viewer of his films, you should be OK with this one. If not, approach with caution and self-medicate heavily.

Yule Log is available on Digital Platforms and on DVD from SRS Cinema.

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