Adult Swim’s Yule Log Review: Redefining the Log Lady

Yule log burning has been a wintertime staple since yore in the 17th century, Germanic pagan in origin for the sole purpose of bringing light into the darkness; bringing day into the night. The first televised Yule Log was in 1966 on New York City’s WPIX (you know it) and burned bright until 1989…

Twenty-three years of melodic, if not mediocre merriment for all to enjoy while we get lit on Wassail. That is until Casper Kelly came along and decided to fuck it all up for us to watch in abject horror and trippy bewilderment.

Sure, Yule Log starts out with the quaint crackle of the wood with holiday tunes playing in the background. That is until the landlady steps into the frame and begins to vacuum for her guests. A rapping at the door doesn’t comfort me either.

Answering it wasn’t on her list of duties, but neither was cleaning… nor being sexually assaulted, ultimately dying brutally at the hands of a backwoods freak under the watchful eye of his Mother (Tordy Clark). So much for the holiday festivities.

The burning log sees all and though her son attempts to burn the evidence, momma keeps extracting it. She knows they need to bury it, along with her corpse, so they drag the body out.

Thus far, we’ve only seen what’s in the periphery of a traditional yule log program, nothing more, nothing less.

Suddenly, disembodied voices of a man and a woman enter the frame. This is their Air BnB. They’re already getting off to a great start when he admits to leaving the fire burning, as he was recording and forgot to snuff it out. The operative word: snuff.

Getting the vino ready, he zooms the camera out for a full view. He primps himself we already know where this is going. It also gives us a nice view of the cabin, so it now takes us out of the fake and into the real.

His reason for filming was to make his own yule log video, though it’s secretly a proposal capture as well. This clever boy is Alex (Justin Miles).

Once the wine is poured and the toast is made, the camera shifts focus as they kiss to a reflection in their ice bucket. It’s the killer with his paper face mask on.

Fetching her some charcuterie, Alex fakes a charlie horse to get down on one knee and do the thang, which she is stricken by. Don’t worry, the killer is witness to this as well. This is Alex’s soon-to-be lifemate. This is Zoe (Andrea Laing).

As she mulls it over, we see the killer creep in through the blurred reflection of the ice bucket, but is immediately thwarted by the authorities at their door.

The Sheriff (Mark Costello) and Deputy (Jonathon Pawlowski) want to alert them to a found body on the other side of the mountain the other night.

Things only go from sketchy to creepy when it’s revealed that the logs used to produce their fire were from a lynching tree. Before that, it was a sacred tree to the indigenous of the area. Yeah, methinks they’re double-fucked, which ain’t a new holiday Oreo flavor.

Zoe gets the sheriff a glass of water, to which he extinguishes the fire, advising them not to burn it but to bury it with reverence.

The Deputy notices the camera. Alex does that every time he travels to create a new yule log video for Youtube, which he monetizes.

The Sheriff recommends they erase the tape this time on account of what type of tinder it is before handing over his card.

I will say, the banter betwixt the two lawmen is both reminiscent of the Coen Brothers, mixed with a twinkling of Twin Peaks. Kudos, Casper.

Upon their exit, we see a black and white overlay of two boys in coonskin hats playing cops and robbers, as if from a 1920s movie as the audio from the couple still plays in real-time. Not only was this beautiful, but will be a skein down the line.

Alex is indignant for them ruining his night as Zoe’s fear is rising. He tries to mansplain it away, but if the ‘yes’ was tentative on her part, it’s as cold as the quenched logs, now on display. He’s also diminutive of her honest fears, only wanting to get that fire in that place going again.  All that matters to him is setting the mood and getting the answer he wants, but she’s way too freaked out to even think about something so trivial. This goes as far as him thinking she’s scared of marriage, but her fear overtakes his selfishness.

His Golden Retriever, happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care nature isn’t sitting well with her. She’s realistic and though he seems like he’d be better with another puppy dog, he wants her. Now it’s gone from horror to drama in the blink of an eye.

She expects the other boot to drop and things never to work out. He suggests she increase her meds. Whoa! Wrong move, buddy.

This is the greatest metaphor for blind eyes vs mental health. I mean, he’s white and she’s black. Black and white could not be more slap you in the face and I am here for it.

Zoe knows shit’s fucked up in the world and to be Holly Golightly isn’t an option on the menu when they might be the main course.

Alex tries to prove that every era is bad when you’re in it and tries to galvanize his point with her imagining her in the Civil War, as the screen overlaps once again into a different age, with master Isaac (Michael Reagan) having his slave Rosa (Jessica Fontaine) serve him a meal. This hearth has certainly seen its fair share of pain and it’s baked into the hearth.

Zoe still sees the blue marble for what it currently is and Alex has no option but to ‘accept’ her worldview. He still, in his entertaining view of wanting to be with her, manages to make her laugh. That is until the code for the door is starting to be punched in. She grabs a knife, as she’s still on edge.

Turns out it’s a group that was double booked. They just welcome themselves in. The plot thickens as their blood boils.

As these hipsters (fodder for murder) help themselves to all amenities, Zoe warns them of a killer on the loose. In their hipster, true crime podcast-loving fashion, they crave to hear more about it.

Both Alex and their leader Ben (Sean Hankinson) call the booking agents but something interesting happens. It tracks to a phone in the house.

Squizzed out, Alex phones the Sheriff, to which now all of the stoned hipsters get wet because they ‘happen to do a murder podcast’. Called it.

So far, we have a distressed couple with de-stressed hipsters. What could possibly go wrong, especially after Zoe chastises them to not light the fire, which they find laughable? Don’t trifle with what you don’t know, I say, which is why I only hold my Ouija board sessions on a Wednesday, not a Friday. You don’t fuck with weekends.

Alex becomes more alarmed, growing increasingly pissed with Ben… until Ben shares a picture of them altogether, but because it’s blurry, Alex isn’t the wiser.

Ben explains that the mountain was known for alien sightings/lynchings, the camera once again swipes to black and white, now with a mother pouring a glass of tea for the aforementioned coonskin-hatted boys in front of the tv, in front of the same fireplace. They speak of Esther Dickens.

Zoe is pissed and to matters even worse, she’s informed that though the landlady is missing, police are done in for the night. She’s now freaked to 11 and though the group is excited.

As Alex rages against the dying night, three wipes over eras transpire, ending on slave and master. What the fuck?

Rosa asks her master a favor. When he goes to market, for him to give a quilt she’d sewn to a young boy that was scared of thunder. This is her child. She’s in for a shock, however, as Isaac couldn’t sell her son to the bidder she wanted. There are always deeper pockets.

In the now, they all have to bed down. The couples’ room is off-limits, but everything else is fair game. The basement is off-limits…

So the rest are headed for the hot tub. Alex is tempted, but Zoe just wants to pack. She knows what’s coming. Once they exit, the fire stokes up again and the camera violently pans in. It also pans out, leading to a very different, warm-hued shot of the cabin.

Those that are ready for the hot tub, are destined for it as Alex is trying to reason with Zoe.  The P.O.V. leads up to the second floor.

As we whip around as if in a hypnotic trance, we enter where Ben is showering. Yup, to very visceral enjoyment, the rivulets have run red. This is what we’re here for. It gets fucking violent.

As for the others, he looks on with nigh Michael Myers precision but holds back. They grill Alex on how much he rolls in.

He admits that the yule log vids make enough, but his ad agency job makes more with pushing evil. His girlfriend’s coral reef endeavors though, he asserts, are the counterbalance of karma.

Henry (Skye Passmore) says it’s dope as an influencer, though to be honest, none of them truly are. They’re just phonies that love to pretend that life. They’ve done a lot of should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve whilst still talking the walk.

Alex sits down with them for a drink and questions them on whether they do it for clout or for believing. Beth (Hannah Alline) is skeptical, but Alex challenges it. That’s Zoe comes in and questions who lit the fire. Uh oh, Spaghetti oO’s.

After Alex takes an edible, he’s with those who aren’t buzzkills. Ooh, wait. There’s more.

He offers to spill the tea on what’s hurting Zoe. Wrong move, buddy.

Henry’s high kicks in and he sees a Little Man in the Fire (Charles Green), inching him to come near. This will end well.

Alex then relays a really fucking vulnerable moment Zoe once had. Class act, buddy.

Henry’s too far in, creeping to the other side of the hearth. Now the little man has become human-sized. Henry’s in limbo. After an enticement, he introduces him to the elevator and his past life on different floors. Wait, did I just see the illustrious William Tokarsky in there? Never a good omen.

The Little Man knows Henry’s a fuckup and shows him the life he could live in luxury if he only were to do one simple, very simple task before he’s born. I’ll not spoil it, but the result is fucked up and maybe a birthday party might not be in his future.

A new player has entered the arena in his staid. R.I.P. Henry. People are wondering where Ben is, but it’s only when Beth, who’s been hitting on Alex goes to check on him does shit get real. She wants to resuscitate him, but try that with a fucking squashed Casaba Melon and then call me back.

She screams to the others’ consternation and they scream until another shout if they should give him mouth-to-mouth. The hat on a hat made me fucking howl.

Zoe’s phoning the Sheriff. She knows it’s a curse, and others’ blame now is being lobbed.

Spoke too soon. Beth’s dome is now modern art. The swiftness of the violence did surprise me.

The log itself has itself out and everybody knows that. All except for Alex. He still doesn’t believe in that chicanery and honestly thinks it’s all a bunch of hocus pocus. Had the Sanderson Sisters taught you anything, hon? YOU. DON’T. FUCK. WITH. WHAT. YOU. DON’T. KNOW.

Once Henry tries to blanket it, he is thrust into the house. Granted, it was supposed to be extinguished before you could do that, my dear. Sorry, they didn’t tell you that in the pamphlets.

The log isn’t done yet. Tiger, tiger. You know the schpiel.

Locking themselves into a room, Alex, Zoe, and Holly (Danielia Maximillian) are trying to stave off the pounding log, and as surreal as that may sound, it’s none less threatening. There’s a lot of history behind that log and maybe it has ‘something to say’.

This log has one my heart. It’s got a goal, like T-1000, and can’t stop, won’t stop.

Though Holly goes to exit, Alex keeps Zoe locked in the closet with him. It has very Halloween vibes and for good reason.

Holly is down for the count and though Alex can do everything to comfort Zoe, the bravado is only in his voice, not his soul… or maybe it is. Zoe knows the log is from hell and he’s just trying to go into his happy place. Kudos to him for keeping up the golden rule- don’t let anybody know you shit your pants until it actually dribbles down.

The log is waiting. Zoe believes the Sheriff sprinkled some sort of thing on the log that made it worse, but Alex is willing to make a break once he thinks the path is clear.

Coming from the burning log’s perspective, the two don’t stand a chance when it finds an in through the grate.

Alex thinks that through the camera, they’ll get proof of the paranormal and wants to sell it. Now, who’s becoming evil? He needs vocal confirmation as she doesn’t look him in the eye with an ‘I love you’ isn’t comforting either. He’s just like the others. He just wants validation, which might be more lethal than the ghost log ‘cleaning’ house.

It matters none, as once inviting herself, they jet down the stairs until they are granted no passage to the outside from the masked killer, Pleatherface (Brendan Patrick Connor).

With both Zoe and Holly bound nigh the hearth, Pleatherface is about to have his way with someone. With Alex is bound in the other room, his Mother chomps on nasty shit. She agrees that things are dangerous.

As her son plays a cute game of Eeny Meeny Miney Moe with both girls, Holly gives up his girlfriend as being prettier than her. Not a good look, Holly.

Bound up, hearing their screams, Alex asks her name. She’s Mother, but no amount of rapport and promises, including the engagement ring, will save his Chris Pratt-looking ass. Let this be a lesson to you… don’t fuck with the woods. I thought that Sondheim already taught you that!

She wants you to have her grandbaby and through a disgusting and Lynchian interaction, she chooses to leave her message with his possible life. She wants her son to impregnate one of the two to start a family anew.

As she spills her horrible plan, Alex doesn’t want to hear it, though it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. She wants her horrible, murderous son to impregnate one of two ‘lucky’. That’s fucking horrible.

While Holly is presumed dead, Zoe is still trying to cut her ties off with the help of the fireplace.

Though Zoe stares sexual assault and possible murder in the face, he breaks the axe in half and wants to find an actual connection with her. A zipper unzipped isn’t the way to end this.

Going back through wipes of the past isn’t helping us either. It just makes us more stressed about the pain of it all. This includes some dark fucking shit.

Rosa’s apologetic about selling her boy into slavery, but she is having none of Isaac’s gain, proceeding to stab his head through the blanket. This was their son. Again, these walls have seen a lot of blood spilled. The firey log goes and knocks the would-be rapist/murderer on the head. Enough is enough.

Pleatherface is knocked out by the log before he can continue the deed, and no amount of axe-swinging can kill the log. The firey log. That is full of pain. Full of sorrow. Talk about the real reason for an axe to grind. The log blows him out of the house. He throws it out and goes chasing after her.

While the mother assaults Alex, the lights go on the windows. She’s found out. He thinks it’s the police, but oh, no, it’s a Higher power. It’s Aliens.

Now, what are they to do with their big, bad Cronenberg-Esque Gatling gun but to fuck to the face cavity and suck all the life juice (aka blood) from Mother? Bullets are like pellets to them.

Though Alex tries to tie the bridge between astral and human, he did a bad job, of selling himself. He is being taken in front of both Zoe and Holly’s eyes. Holly knows the silver aliens are the worst. Her only option is to play dead. However, as the alien resides above a pleading Zoe, the screen goes again back to black and white, as the mother of the two boys drops everything, sees this in real-time, and goes with him, as does the slave master’s wife laments her husband’s decapitated head as the Rosa goes after her as well. Pain is as well. It’s only how much money you want to drop into it.

This crosses back through multiple timelines, with a remorseful Rosa.

A knife is dropped in one’s stead on the hearth. One is fascinated that it used to be used by natives to scalp a head. The knife times used were always buried in the hearth.

On the Silver Alien, judging on the Zoe, that knife is extracted. She takes it, but before she can cut herself free, she’s met with its blue blood on her face. It turns out, Pleatherface wanted to help her all along.

No good deed goes unpunished, as she stabs him square in the dick multiple times like a punching bag… with that same knife before she finishes the deal with in his eye. Whew. I need a cigarette.

On the bright side, Alex is still alive. On the negative side, the beast is still in him and he wants her to get out while the getting is good.

Zoe rescues the zombie-Esque boyfriend, but the dude isn’t looking well. Additionally, Holly is still tied up. That is when Zoe meets the Little Man in the log and proceeds in.

He tempts her, but unlike Henry, she is looking bloodied up. He goads her with one hundred million but then says that insofar as, she’s a winner in the lottery in terms of sperm. Now comes the elevator.

She’s beaten the odds. She’s smart enough, empathetic enough, real enough. What could he possibly show her that she hadn’t already seen?

It was the night she was conceived. He grants her the option to redo her genetics. Redo herself with a better mindset. To have someone ‘better’ take her place.

Stained with human and alien blood, she’s at a crossroads. He’s not accepting no for an answer.

She accepts no. This makes him unhappy. Everybody can choose the erase regrets option, but only the strong choose to live with them.

He’s dead to rights and keeps throwing her down on her current life, but she won’t break. My queen.

There is one thing she does have though, and that is the mythical knife. That is wrested from her without her will. So he gives her back the proverbial and literal ball that is in her court. There’s only one thing.

Alex drives the poker into the fire to get her out.

She, Holly, and a very drained Alex hoof it out but at the car, but this is the end of the line for him. Holly has the one to fucking slay the beast.

Against, their better judgment, the couple head back into the house, gaining an axe and their keys.

The camera was recording all this time and now it can record the weird and fucked up shit that transpired throughout the night. The spirits don’t take lightly to that crap, though, log included.

Armed with a pistol and axe, Zoe can literally wreck-house and though they only captured the flaming log into a fridge (cute), they still need an escape. And they do, booking out of there, not realizing there are people praying at that tree and going back even earlier in black and white because they have Rosa.

They see the Sheriff at the hands of it and though it’s time to put his hands up… it’s really time to fucking put those hands up in the “ayer’ and waive of ‘em like you just don’t cayer.” Because Zoe’s about to run over some racist pieces of shit.

They drive. They run until the dawn comes. At a stop light, she finally puts the ring on. But the log isn’t too far behind.

We pan out to a black woman director, telling a white graphic designer to make the logo a tad bigger. It’s for the newly redesigned Armfield Cotton Mill Lofts. She is now redesigning their realm with the help of her husband.

They’re both cool with calling it a day. It’s BlueBlanket Media. This log is putting in work!

There’s only one problem with their building. The AC guy thinks he can beat the AC into submission as a joke. She thanks him for now, for she is his master.

The thing is what her boyfriend said of ‘Were Taking William to the’, the ‘I were that if so’, and ‘Beat It Into Submission’ doesn’t take kindly to her tympanic membranes.

I won’t spoil the ending. All I can say is that in the end. Log: 1… Couple: …

This is pure excellence. Going from a drama play to a horror show, and back to a play, then to a horror mixing in a bit of sci-fi was a stroke of pure genius. Having it centered around something we all know so well was a bit sketchy to me in the first minute, but I was sold.

It’s a bit Coen Bros., Lynchian, and mixed in a shaker with some vodka, Argento.

It’s provocative, inventive, and all-around surrealist.

Capra, step back. Schultz, take a back seat. Dickens, this will haunt you in your sleep.

5/5 Stars.

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

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Yule log burning has been a wintertime staple since yore in the 17th century, Germanic pagan in origin for the sole purpose of bringing light into the darkness; bringing day into the night. The first televised Yule Log was in 1966 on New York...Adult Swim's Yule Log Review: Redefining the Log Lady
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