If you have seen the trailer or read about The Mean One, I am here to tell you that you get exactly what you pay for. The Mean One is ninety minutes of unashamed dumb fun. If at any point you didn’t like what you had seen or read about this movie then I can guarantee you that this is not for you (and that’s okay). The Mean One knows exactly what it is, and knows exactly what it is accomplishing. A popcorn-shoving, goofy-gorefest of a time that’ll make any fan of campy horror happy.
The Mean One stars Krystle Martin as Cindy, who returns to her hometown of “Newville” twenty years after the death of her mother. As she traverses the town, and by proxy her trauma, she learns that the town no longer celebrates Christmas. Which leads her to learn about an evil Christmas-hating being they call “The Mean One.” With the help of a local deputy and the town drunk, they’ll work to bring down the Mean One once and for all.
What is probably the most bizarre aspect of this movie is its characters. Each character matches a stereotype that the film exploits for the entire duration. The crooked politician will parade herself around with flyers and stickers on her at all times. The sheriff who is cold and distant and seems to harbor a dark secret. The town drunk whose empty liquor bottles flood the ground as he cracks his car door open. And the deputy that has to mention he’s Jewish constantly.
Which is probably The Mean One‘s worst aspect – the constant stereotypes. I’m not expecting The Godfather levels of complex characterization. Still, there wasn’t any slight effort to characterize outside of the “face in the mud” stereotypes. There is enough of the Mean One’s presence to offset these low moments. But, the issues detract from the overall experience rather than enhance it. I know this movie is attempting to mirror Hallmark and Lifetime movies. However, the opportunity to do a little more would’ve sweetened the experience a bit more.
The real star of this movie is the mean one himself, David Howard Thornton. Much like his appearance as Art the Clown in Terrifier, Thornton delivers a masterful performance. While there are goofy growls and yelps, most of the Mean One’s communication is through movement. Movement of which comes directly out of this movie’s subject, Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. What makes the movements so enthralling is how he recontextualizes them within the confines of this movie.
In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey’s movement was done through “Mickey Mousing”. Most of his movements were accompanied by a score or collection of sound effects. That technique appears here as well, but instead of a grandiose-Christmasy score accompanying it, we see pure bloodshed. The best example takes place in a scene that occurs in a diner (the one during the day – there are two diner scenes in this movie). The Mean One is creeping around the diner and making small movements that are ripped out of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Which is then proceeded by the most beautiful marriage of crude Adobe After Effects and people screaming.
The low budget really shines through and heightens the overall impact of the movie. Most scenes are extremely oversaturated, the CGI is crude and amateurish, but somehow they all work in tandem to boost the tone. This leads to what makes this movie so enjoyable: its inventiveness. There were plenty of opportunities for this movie to go off the rails, but it kept driving. The Mean One should have no reason to be this fun, and it makes every effort to put the audience’s experience first.
The Mean One is the quintessential Christmas flick for fans of campy horror. It never wavers in its ninety-minute runtime to tell a message of “Christmas is about family” or something goofy like that. You will get the dumbest kills, the worst acting imaginable, and some of the worst cinematography in a movie – but that is 100% what I was wanting out of this. The Mean One is this year’s big Christmas movie and you should take the entire family to see it. – Jacob Mauceri
The Mean One is opening exclusively at Regal Cinemas nationwide on December 9th.