The Mean One (2022)

Director: Steven Lamorte

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Starring: David Howard Thornton, Krystle Martin, Chase Mullins, John Bigham, Erik Baker, Flip Kobler, Amy Schumacher

A curious trend has popped-up in recent years, from The Banana Splits Movie to the upcoming Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, of taking beloved childhood characters and violently "maturing" them. The latest release is an unauthorized parody of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, which sees the green creature take out his festive frustrations in murderous ways.

In the sleepy mountain town of Newville, young Cindy You-Know-Who had her Christmas stolen by a green-faced creature in a Santa outfit. Instead of taking presents, The Mean One (David Howard Thornton) murdered Cindy's mother. Twenty-years-later, Cindy (Krystle Martin) returns with her dad for closure to discover a town which no longer celebrates Christmas. After the monster returns to murder her dad, Christmas cheer fear will be spread throughout the town.

After turning Art the Clown into a cult-favourite figure, Thornton plays The Mean One in hopes of recapturing the Terrifer films' success. While he brings an excellent grin to the role, his personality doesn't shine through and leaves what should be a memorable performance failing to stick in the mind. For anybody hoping for grisly kills, this is the most disappointing element as the horror is undercut by distracting visual effects. A sequence involving a rowdy group dressed as Santa's should be a great showcase for The Mean One taking out his Christmas grievances in gruesome form, yet the dreadful CGI blood taints the scenes.

Working off a screenplay from Flip and Finn Kobler, the film tries parodying the Hallmark Holiday aesthetic as the traditional "rediscovering the love for Christmas" journey is surrounds one woman's battle with a green murderer. Chuckles appear when referencing the source-material, particularly a fun touch of rhyming narration, although a character named Zeus asking to be called "Doc" is too on-the-nose. Outside of that, the laughs are scarce.

There's not much to the characters, from the clearly-insidious Mayor to the bland love-interest. This is particularly true of Cindy, an underwritten lead who goes from being frustrated to emulating Jamie-Lee Curtis from 2018's Halloween. It's a transition which feels forced because the creatives wanted to reach an action-focused finale, most notably the films least interesting segment right up to the ridiculous resolution. What's been created is a fun idea for a comedy sketch stretched out to an unfortunate length, with little idea how to sustain it.

The Mean One is available in cinemas now