Adult Swim’s Weird, Wonderful Christmas Movie Is a Trip of the Senses

Ben Friedman


Every year, there are seemingly hundreds of new Christmas movies released on streaming services. Whether it’s Lindsay Lohan in Falling for Christmas, Freddie Prinze Jr’s Christmas with You, or Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell retelling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, these movies are abundant and inoffensive. They tell tales of romance, family, and being kind to one another. But what about Christmas movies for people who hate the schmaltzy tonal familiarity associated with the holiday season? Well then, Adult Swim has the perfect movie for you.


Adult Swim released its version of a Christmas movie, and it is as weird as one would suspect from the channel that airs Rick and Morty, The Eric Andre Show, and Smiling Friends.  Directed by Casper Kelly (Too Many Cooks), Adult Swim Yule Log (aka The Fireplace) follows a couple who travels to an Airbnb for the holidays, only to discover their cabin has been double-booked by a group of stoner friends. Forced to board together, the two parties uncover a dark and mysterious presence that abides within the cabin.



If this premise sounds familiar, that is because it is similar to the premise of Zach Cregger’s Barbarian, a horror film that released earlier this fall. Both films share quite a bit in common. Both are directed by comedic talents who heavily utilize sadistic dark comedy. Both films are nearly impossible to explain to someone who has not seen the movie. Most importantly, both films are a tightrope of tonal balance.


The Fireplace is uniquely its own genre and style. The film parodies popular YouTube ASMR videos of crackling fireplaces. For the first act, the camera is stationary. Conversations and actions happen off screen, leaving audiences in a state of bewilderment. Loud banging noises, eerie voices, and stomping feet are heard but never seen. The novelty of the direction allows the film to feel original. As the runtime goes on, the film pulls away from the stationary shot, transforming into a traditional multi-camera feature.



The switch serves to both the film’s benefit and weakness. While widening the production scale allows the insanity of the horror to take center stage, the eccentricity is lost, transforming The Fireplace into a brash, demented, horror-comedy that struggles to maintain either balance. Simply put, the joke goes on far too long, and the horror becomes far too nonsensical.


Yet, The Fireplace can best be described as a Rorschach test of one’s personal taste. Kelly’s direction and writing is completely dependent on one’s sense of humor and acceptance of the downright bizarre. Its singularity in tone, gross-out kills, and bonkers finale will alienate audiences, yet in its weirdness lies something wholly original. For better or worse, The Fireplace is an artifact unlike anything you have ever seen before. It is not for everyone, but it is destined to build a cult following. For audiences hoping to get weird this holiday season, Adult Swim Yule Log has you covered.


The film is currently streaming on HBO Max.


Author Bio:

Ben Friedman is a freelance film journalist and a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine. For more of his reviews, visit, his podcast Ben and Bran See a Movie, or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube: The Beniverse


For Highbrow Magazine


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