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‘The Mean One’ review: A pretty perfect parody

Are you ready for the true meaning of Christmas?

The Mean One, starring David Howard Thornton, comes to theaters on December 8th. David Howard Thornton has certainly made his mark on the horror community as Art the Clown – his image is as ubiquitous among horror fans as Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees. While the Grinch’s likeness is certainly also iconic, the story of the Grinch has never been told as a horror story, until now.

The Mean One is a parody of the Grinch’s story, borrowing heavily both from the original Dr. Seuss tale and from the Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies that are so beloved this time of year. The film is an unlicensed parody, meaning great lengths are taken to ensure that the language of the original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas is never directly copied. 

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One of the best things about The Mean One is Christopher Sanders’ narration. Written by Finn and Flip Kobler, the rhyming scheme never misses a beat. It calls right back to other Seuss adaptations in a way that could have easily been overbearing or annoying, but it’s used sparingly and to perfection. 

Cindy (Krystle Martin), returns to “Newville” to sell her family home and to get some closure from a traumatic incident in her childhood that involved none other than “The Mean One”. Cindy’s returns to Newville with her father Lou (played by writer Flip Kobler), and the two have a surprising amount of Christmas spirit, despite Cindy’s Christmas PTSD. The town of Newville does not celebrate Christmas whatsoever; upon returning to the town, the pair is pulled over and told to remove the antlers and red nose from their SUV. No Christmas spirit allowed in Newville! That’s okay, because Cindy and Lou have enough Christmas spirit to go around.

While Cindy’s prepared to face the town where her mother was brutally killed by a green monster as a child, no one could predict that “the Christmas Killer” would return along with her. It isn’t long before all of Cindy’s Christmas joy and excitement is snuffed out, along with her father’s life. What Cindy didn’t know when she returned, is that some of the town blames her for “ending Christmas”; and no one believes her that her mother – or father – were killed by a green monster. 

‘The Mean One’ review: A pretty perfect parody

Borrowing from the likes of Hallmark and Lifetime movies, The Mean One also features an extremely annoying mayor who’s up for re-election (Amy Schumacher) and a love interest for Cindy, Officer Burke (Chase Mullins). Officer Burke seems to be one of few who thinks Cindy isn’t crazy, and he’s hoping that she’ll stay in Newville and fall in love with him. After her father is killed though, she’s ready to leave. 

While the Grinch, as we know him from previous iterations, just hates Christmas and Christmas cheer, this one is more than ready to kill anyone celebrating. Donning a filthy Santa suit, we see The Mean One go on his first killing spree – going after an obnoxious group of bar hopping Santas – at about 30 minutes into the film. It’s a scene filled with fake blood and people falling on sharp objects (one of the green monster’s favorite methods of murder) and it is great. It’s the kind of scene where I can picture people cheering in the theater – cheering for the bad guy, of course.

‘The Mean One’ review: A pretty perfect parody

David Howard Thornton in The Mean One (2022)
Photo credit: Images courtesy of Atlas Film Distribution

A scene with John Bigham serves up quite a bit of exposition, but it’s a really fun scene to introduce an excellent character. Bigham plays Doc, an old, heavy-drinking man who’s been hunting The Mean One for years. He meets Cindy in a bar, and the two of them – along with Good Cop Officer Burke – begin their hunt for the murderous green monster. This means that we get an excellent action montage of Cindy preparing to take down the thing that killed her family. Look, if cheese isn’t your thing, this probably isn’t the movie for you. If you can appreciate a little sharp cheddar, though – this movie is near-perfect.

All in all, The Mean One is a perfect horror-comedy. If you’ve seen any Lifetime/Hallmark movies at all, you’ll appreciate each riff on those movies. The acting is solid, the music is great, and The Mean One himself looks awesome. There’s action, there’s comedy, there’s a love story, there’s a good cop/bad cop – truly, this movie packs a lot into an hour and a half. The ending is also absolutely fantastic. The Mean One is sure to become a Christmas horror classic. 

The Mean One comes to theaters December 9

The Mean One
‘The Mean One’ review: A pretty perfect parody
The Mean One
Unlike any Grinch you’ve seen, ‘The Mean One’ is a smart and funny parody of Christmas classics, and is sure to become a classic in its own right.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Great kills and gore.
Great costumes and music - Christmas tunes and guns wrapped like candy canes.
Really fun performances.
Could have been taken a little further with the gore.

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