Considering how we always have a very small amount of holiday movies from year to year, I always find myself jumping right to one that actually looks good so I can get my holiday fix. It’s a shame that many filmmakers, and the Hollywood machine itself, just can’t get it right when it comes to holiday movies because it’s an untapped resource for people like me who are clamoring for Halloween movies, Thanksgiving (yes those too), and Christmas movies. I grew up in a time when I had holiday shows and movies hitting my TV year after year before the production of these show and movies found themselves in Hallmark Channel hell. So when I saw the trailer for Krampus I was enjoyed beyond belief. Here was a horror Christmas film about the the “Anti-Santa” who punishes children for misbehaving.
The film follows Max (Emjay Anthony) who, despite his best intentions, isn’t having the greatest Christmas. No one seems to be in the Christmas spirit. His sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) hates him, his very liberal mom and dad (Adam Scott & Toni Collette) aren’t in the mood to deal with him with the impending visit of his extremely rude and very conservative Aunt & Uncle (Allison Tolman & David Koechner) and their stereotypical redneck children. When the two families collide Max rips up his letter he was writing to Santa and tosses it out the window, an action he unknowingly causes Krampus, to come on Christmas and punish his family.
Directed by Michael Daughtry (Trick r’ Treat), the film is very strong in it’s creepy atmosphere and mostly practical effects, and Krampus himself is terrifying to see but he’s largely missing. He spends the first part of the film sneaking around the shadows like the shark from Jaws, until he fully reveals himself near the end and this is where my problems with the film lies. We spend a large amount of time with this horrible family and I get you’re supposed to hate them based on your political beliefs but they were too far on the left or right that I hated all of them throughout the entire film and didn’t feel sorry for anyone as they were picked off one-at-a-time. I get that you’re supposed to dislike the characters, even flat out hate them, but Daughtry and company decided to make the two main characters, played by Adam Scott and David Koechner, and their families are so liberal and conservative I couldn’t wait for them to get knocked off.
Another issue I had was with Krampus is Krampus himself or the lack of. Instead of having the main villian attempting to get in the house we have to spend an hour watching his minions, which consist of a killer teddy bear, a evil doll that looks like a tree angel, ginger bread cookies (which by far are the worst effect), a giant Jack-in-the-Box that slithers around the house like a snake, and some dark elves, until Krampus finally shows up in all his glory but when he finally does arrive it’s amazing to see. The mixture of practical effects and CGI blend together pretty flawlessly.
It’s clear that Daughtry is attempting to make his own version of Gremlins and he largely succeeds over his failures but the film just feels incomplete where Trick r Treat was more rounded Krampus feels cut, incomplete, and really suffers from the PG-13 rating because it can only go so far in the horror and comedy instead of really committing hard to both.
In the end, I did enjoy the movie, it’s visually stunning, creepy, funny and mostly hits all the right points and I feel it’s another one of those movies that will benefit from a sequel because it would allow Daughtry to build of the lore of Krampus. The film really showcases what’s wrong with our society around the holidays and how we’re more interested in the things we get then the company of our loved ones and how there are quite a few people who could use a visit from Krampus this Christmas, but unless you’re hankering for a this type of movie you’re better off just waiting for it to hit Blu-ray/DVD.