If you are familiar with Adult Swim, you are aware that the word “cozy” should always be regarded with suspicion. This is particularly true with Yule Log, the network’s perpetually bizarre horror film, which debuted after the conclusion of Rick and Morty Season 6. serious spoilers coming.
You’re seeing the close-up of the fireplace from the Yule Log that I was just watching, which was probably around Christmas. For some reason, I then suddenly had the thought, “What if you see these legs strolling in the front, kind of out of focus?” And then you start to hear conversation, which makes you wonder, “Wait, what’s happening? ” Yule Log’s writer and director, Casper Kelly, told Decider.
Yule Log may surprise late-night fans, but in terms of Kelly’s connection with Adult Swim, it’s not out of the usual. The director of Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell has released three unexpected short films for the network throughout the years: “Danny Ketchup” in 2020; “Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough” in 2018; and his best-known short, “Too Many Cooks” in 2014. Kelly has always contacted Adult Swim first rather than the other way around whenever he has an idea for another one of these unexpected drops.
I suggested that Adult Swim air the idea as a 4 a.m. thing. They respond with, “Yeah, OK, we like it.” Kelly clarified. Then, for some reason, without knowing what would happen in it, I thought, “Hey, what if we turned it into a movie? And they said, “We could probably find a bit more money for you if you can do it for approximately the same amount of money. Yes, let’s give it a go. It is thus their first live-action film.
The film begins just as Kelly described it: You hear a lady speaking while a serene yule log crackles. You’re still made to gaze at this log minutes later as you hear a mother and her Leatherface-like adult son savagely murdering this lady. From then, it just descends into depths that are stranger and deeper. Surprisingly, almost the whole original screenplay by Kelly gets adapted for the cinema. In addition to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Kelly also drew influence from more avant-garde filmmakers like David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Panos Cosmatos as well as horror classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Evil Dead. The ultimate result is a movie that veers between absurdist humor, genuine fright, and horror schlock.
As usual, the actual impacts of Yule Log reflect that balance. After all, this is the same person that created Mandy’s Cheddar Goblin advertisement. For Kelly, it takes a lot of tinkering to hit the sweet spot between terrifying and absurd when it comes to a prop like a bashed-in skull.
“Like, ‘Okay, how about making his eyes bigger? Can he shout for three minutes please? That was much too lengthy. As a result, we’ll trim it to one minute,” Kelly stated. This is irrelevant, but I just learned that I had aphantasia, which makes me have trouble seeing things, which is strange for a director. I kind of can, but not quite as well as everyone else appears to be able to… I just need to observe, test, and then modify.
The concepts at the heart of this film, despite its startling tone and effects, are what distinguish it as a Kelly-only production. Kelly’s art has always been characterized by both its ridiculousness and its underlying profundity. “Too Many Cooks” was amusing, but it was also a foresighted parody of our compulsive need to watch television. Similar to this, the movie “Final Deployment” closes with a jarring multi-streamer monologue in which the protagonists ponder if there is more to their constrained existence.
Yule Log’s concept of temporal privilege touches on equally unsettling ground. The movie cuts between several scenes from various decades in front of the same fireplace as the current-day protagonists strive to determine who or what violent enemies are targeting them. Suddenly, things from Yule Log’s primary story that we normally take for granted—like Zoe (Andrea Laing) and Alex’s mixed-race relationship—turn into glaring extravagances. The dark legacy of America’s involvement in slavery, homophobia, and misogyny is another murderer that prowls in Yule Log’s shadows.
“My parents and I both hail from the South. I consider myself to be a nice person, therefore I do consider the question: Would I still be a good person if I had been alive in my ancestors’ day? Or would I just have done what everyone else was doing? said Kelly. So, it begs the question: What will people think of us in the future? Despite the fact that I believe I am a decent person, they can say that I am not. Even while I worry about global warming, I don’t care enough to stop driving a vehicle, and he seemed to drive about in a car while seemingly unconcerned about it.
“What else has transpired in the room you’re in? prior to your arrival? Or on that property?” Kelly queried. It’s just fascinating. And how does it affect us in ways that we are unaware of?
Speaking about a narrative that eventually revolves on a Black lady and America’s history of slavery, Kelly acknowledges that he was “extremely scared.” “I did ask around, but I’m still anxious. However, based on reports in the media, it seems that people appreciate it and react to it as planned. I’m aware that it’s difficult, and writing it was quite difficult for me. I wasn’t planning on going there, Kelly remarked. “But I’ve just realized that I really believe in the thoughts, ideas, and sentiments I’m attempting to express. I want to attempt speaking things even if I’m not exactly saying them correctly because I want others to consider and discuss them. I really thought I did it justice.
The guy in the fireplace is another challenging component of this film. The same bargain is presented to two distinct protagonists on many times by a small guy who repeatedly appears atop the cursed Yule log: If they follow his instructions, they may improve their destiny. That promise turns out to be a trap both times. Kelly steadfastly refused to explain what the guy in the fireplace stood for. He did, however, concur when the reporter referred to him as a type of queer-coded monster who fits into the general concept of temporal privilege.
“There’s something more you didn’t mention, but I’m going to keep quiet. However, you are moving in the correct direction, Kelly added. “I believe that what he is doing to the other individuals is what he wants to do to himself. But he can’t, in my opinion, because of the curse. He cannot subject himself to such. So while being a horrible bastard, he somehow believes he is doing good.
After overcoming obstacles such as cursed wood, psychotic killers, aliens, and fire demons, Yule Log culminates with the deaths of Zoe and Alex. This is a harsh conclusion, but that’s the one Kelly had in mind all along.
I’m somewhat of an optimist, so this [ending] kind of goes against how I feel about life philosophically, Kelly said. It’s cathartic, yet, at the same time. I like it when a movie has a depressing conclusion and you leave feeling so happy to have finished it. In fact, I often feel better after seeing gloomy films than after watching pleasant ones. I feel so relieved to have finished the movie, and I think, “Oh, life looks so beautiful now.” Life is wonderful,”