Director: Vadim Jean

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Hogfather Probably the oddest, darkest Christmas movie ever done is Hogfather (2006), based on a Terry Pratchet Discworld novel.

It's a vastly better done film than distant equivalants from Neil Gaimen, such as Mirror Mask (2005), because so much more reliant on actors & acting, strength of storytelling, & brilliance of set design, rather than on cartoonish digital FX or green-screen technology.

Hogfather embraces a gruesome fairy tale set in an alternate world or dimension where the Hogfather serves much the same role as our world's Santa Claus, except that his activities are more fully those of a fertility god who regulates the seasons, & he is part wild boar.

This otherworldly place can only persist for so long as people believe in the Hogfather, for the lives of even other fairy-folk or earthly divinities depend foremost on Him.

HogfatherAlas, the Hogfather has gone missing, & terrible Death (Ian Richardson) steps in at the approach of the winter festival of Hogswatch.

Death sets forth both as an earnest substitute for the Hogfather & as a kind of detective hoping, with his granddaughter Susan the Death of Rats (Michelle Dockery), to recover the Hogfather before all memory of him fades, & with him fades the world.

When Death striving to serve as a kind of Santa asks, "Naughty -- or Nice?" you can tell by his weightiness that every answer carries either reward or doom. So as a substitute Hogfather, he sets an entirely different tone, & a well intending nature doesn't stop him from being Death.

Beautiful set design gives these fine actors a convincing environment in which to truly become the strange beings they represent. On one level it's only a retelling of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" but upraised to magnificence of the soul's poetry, vis, Myth.

HogfatherAlthough the grim premises may not sound it, it really is a work of poker-faced humor. The world created is so real we may forget to laugh, but it's not a stern story.

It's merely that with horrific villains like the psychotic sorcerer Mr. Teatime (Marc Warren), ambiguous creatures scary but perhaps not villainous like the Tooth Fairy, & heroes as frightful as a boar-tusked Santa & Death Himself, this may very easily disturb children, if not even a few adults, as a mite too nightmarish for a family fairy tale.

Yet with such "safe" frights as the Harry Potter movies delivering canned imagination for the dull minds of the terminally unimaginative, the richly tapestried darkness of Hogfather is like a breath of fresh air, teasingly deconstructing all that our world mistakes for holy.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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