A Creature Was Stirring Poster

A Creature Was Stirring (2023) Review

I wasn’t going to review A Creature Was Stirring. After The Sacrifice Game, There’s Something in the Barn, Nightmare on 34th Street, and Santa Isn’t Real I was pretty well played out on Christmas horror films. But then I noticed it was directed by Damien LeVeck who’s other feature was The Cleansing Hour, one of the better recent paranormal investigator films., based on that I decided to give it a look.

“We just have to keep this up until it breaks” Faith (Chrissy Metz, Muppets Haunted Mansion, The Onion Movie) tells her daughter Charm (Annalise Basso, The Bloodhound, Oculus), only to be met with the reply “The blizzard or me?” Looking at the assortment of syringes, pills and a rectal thermometer laid out on the kitchen counter that response seemed anything but snarky.

Then she leads her upstairs to her room and locks her in, behind a door that looks like it was scavenged from an abandoned prison. That’s not the only odd thing going on in this house. There’s something sneaking around just out of sight. And despite its fondness for destroying Christmas decorations, whatever is stirring, it’s not a cat.

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The script is by first timer Shannon Wells and it delivers all of this within the first few minutes and then introduces a wildcard into this already volatile situation. Liz (Scout Taylor-Compton, Penance Lane, The Best Man) and her brother Kory (Connor Paolo, Gossip Girl, The Last Stop in Yuma County) break in claiming to have been looking for shelter from the raging snowstorm only to have Faith take out Kory’s leg with a spiked bat.

A Creature Was Stirring is the kind of film where everyone has secrets and hidden motives and the characters’ pasts aren’t as far behind them as they’d like. At the center of it all though is Charm, who for reasons that aren’t revealed until later in the film, turns into a two legged porcupine if her temperature slips out of a narrow safe range. Faith, a former nurse with a background in making designer drugs keeps her hidden away and pumped full of homebrew meds while she tries to find a cure.

LeVeck keeps things moving along nicely and cinematographer Alexander Chinnici (Bandit, Nighthawks) turns the film’s one location into a neon coloured house of horrors, it looks great. The problem is Wells has stuffed A Creature Was Stirring’s script with several plot elements that never really integrate with one another. Family ties, religion, mental health, and addiction all vie for importance with a basic monster movie plot.

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It also frequently misses opportunities and has the viewer questioning the characters’ actions. Why didn’t Liz and Kory just knock on the door rather than break in? Later we see Liz’s back is covered by a huge tattoo of the crucifixion, it would have been a great reveal if she hadn’t already said she was a missionary. But it also raises other questions like, how many missionaries go out braless?

The script is much better when it comes to delivering scares, including a claustrophobic sequence in a snow tunnel and the first good look at one of the creatures. Yes there’s more than one, and no that’s not a spoiler, the film gives it away before the opening credits. Thankfully they aren’t CGI, even Charm’s transformation scene is done with excellent practical effects.

To their credit the cast play it straight and do their best to rise above the script’s weaker moments and sillier dialogue, that includes the explanation we’re given for Charm’s condition midway through the film. Granted I’m sure it’s meant to sound insultingly stupid, but props to Basso for getting through it with a straight face. Unfortunately the final reveal is actually worse, the first hint of how much worse, the weather goes from a blizzard at Christmas to spring in the space of a week.

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At first I was wondering why A Creature Was Stirring was even set at Christmas since it plays almost no part in the story. Eventually it made sense though, it’s the perfect backdrop for a film with a character named Faith and a Christian missionary battling over someone’s soul. Even if it is metaphorical.

Visually, A Creature Was Stirring is a treat with a great location and excellent creatures. Unfortunately the script really needed more work before it was filmed, taking out some of the excess elements and coming up with a better ending. It’s not as bad as some people told me, but it should have been a lot better than it is.

A Creature Was Stirring is available on VOD and Digital Platforms from Well Go USA.

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2 thoughts on “A Creature Was Stirring (2023) Review”

  1. Thank you for this review! I seriously loved this movie more than I ever could have expected. I love a good creature feature with old school practical effects. The plot twist made my jaw hit the floor, especially the long shot as the credits begin to roll. The overall aesthetic and tone of the movie made it that much better. And the acting was much better than I anticipated. This movie is simply amazing and unique in more ways than not. I would have never known about it had I not read this review.

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