The Mean One hits theaters on December 9, 2022.
Steven LaMorte’s The Mean One is just another game in a long line of no-budget indie games that rack up hype overnight thanks to an insane title or antics trailer, never quite with the production capabilities to deliver standout thrills. Writers Flip and Finn Kobler defy the limits of unauthorized parody by turning Dr. Seuss’ grumpy Christmas party spoiler – The Grinch – into an evil, cold-hearted villain. It is the fourth feature film adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! , where he claims not to use language from literature to adhere to the standards of parody. Instead, LaMorte’s cast and crew blunder through a Christmas hack-n-slash tinged with ugly digital effects — hope you’re overwhelmed or enchanted by the green vibe, so movie quality matters less and less.
Sexy actress Kristel Martin plays Cindy You-Know-Who, returning to her hometown of Newville 20 years after her mother was murdered on Christmas Eve. Cindy knows what she saw that night – a vomiting green bastard dressed as Santa. Sheriff Hopper (Eric Baker) has never caught a Christmas killer since threads around an inhuman hybrid hit dead ends. Newville bans Christmas decorations and festivities to keep the townspeople safe in the meantime—until Cindy’s father, Lou (Flip Kobler), hangs tinsel and lights to get a little holiday spirit going, but instead incites Newville’s Christmas carnage.
Somewhere along my search for parody text, I came across a (possibly fictional) sentence that there should be 13 (or so) distinct points of distinction between the original and the parody in question. Flip and Finn write The Mean One like this because unfortunately there’s no Max sidekach this time around, and “The Mean One” doesn’t speak – you won’t hear the word “Grinch” anywhere – in rhymes or at all. Christopher Sanders rides on a narrative eerily reminiscent of Morgan Freeman’s voiceover, forcing puns and structured rhymes that mix Dr. Seuss and Dr. Satan. Although there is mention of hearts shrinking two sizes too small and other direct Grinch references, as well as the costume ripped straight from the Universal Live Action movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Flip and Finn rely heavily on character similarities to distract from their otherwise bland story, which establishes one golden rule – The Mean One attacks anyone who handles Christmas decorations – and they can’t even keep their own integrity.
Plain and simple, The Mean One is a funny-yet-peerless mess of intellectual property that thinks nothing more than its propaganda hype. The shows don’t vie for notoriety, stumbling over awkward romantic beats and generic montages set to Christmas carols in the public domain. The cinematography is a mess of static roughness that clutters the camera unnaturally, and color correction washes out that unappealing dull blue filter over outdoor scenes to unnaturally “cold” winter environments. The humor isn’t sharp enough to cut through the amateurish proportions of lackluster renditions outside of Dr. Seuss references like a bar called Horton’s, and horror doesn’t mix with comedy to any manageable degree.
I’ve been burned by many an Ouijageist or Shark Side of the Moon in my quest for B-Movie glory – add The Mean One to my naughty list.
Terrifying 2 Actor David Howard Thornton removed Art the Clown’s black-and-white make-up to become The Mean One, with an apparent imitation of Jim Carrey’s slapstick character, the Grinch. He’s the best part of The Mean One, whether he’s beating up indecent drunks from Santacon or cartoonishly slinking up windowsills in the background with tiptoe exaggerations. That doesn’t say much by comparison, but Thornton is handcuffed by the production’s inability to deliver anywhere near Terrifier 2’s practical effects budget. The violent carnage of the Mean One happens mostly off camera, making Thornton just another surface-level Carrey impersonator with limbs. Synthetic that does not cover his entire face and a crocodile-colored wig.
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Worst of all, it’s an incompetent massacre that fails to justify its parody – the insane brutality. The Mean One abuses animation effects, whether it’s gratuitous bloodstains, ludicrous bullet holes, or outrageous aquarium fish – have you even spied an actor’s cheek? LaMorte may have been intentionally aiming for cartoonish fakery, but regardless of intent, The Mean One features some of the worst post-production gore I’ve seen since the last Asylum special that hit SYFY or Tubi. Hell, maybe worse? The Mean One offers a headpiece or two, one charred carcass, and showcases Christmas creativity with touches like Cindy’s peppermint-patterned gun – yet The Mean One is low-budget without the finesse to salvage execution. Quite frankly, the computer-generated effects are an embarrassment that demands an apology for the horror genre.