The timing for Krampus’ release couldn’t have been any better, as people prepare to see their favorite in-laws or grumpy aunt, or simply family they just don’t like. This film captures many concepts that are overlooked or forgotten during the holidays, the joys of caring and selflessness. Krampus serves as a reminder of why you shouldn’t be naughty.
If you are unfamiliar with this German based folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, he is described as the “shadow of Saint Nicholas”.
(WARNING SPOILERS TO FOLLOW)
The film begins by showing a disjointed family preparing for a long Christmas weekend, as they dread the arrival of their relatives. During dinner one of the main characters, Max (Emjay Anthony), totally loses his Christmas spirit after his heartfelt letter to Santa is read aloud at the dinner table by his bullying cousin. In a fit of embarrassed rage, Max rips up his letter for Santa Claus, and accidentally summons Krampus.
Krampus has a fun and humorous tone from the beginning. It intentionally pokes fun at the horror genre clichés, by giving impossible rationalizations to explain why there is no power, or a dark spontaneous blizzard is looming over their neighborhood. Comedic actors like Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and David Koechner (Anchorman) are no strangers to such roles, and deliver enjoyable performances.
The movie really begins to build steam as the first victim is slayed, quickly transitioning from funny and a little creepy, to downright terrifying. This film takes advantage of both practical and computer generated effects. Some of the best practical effects are seen are in the attic with the large possessed toys, such as the human eating jack-in-the-box. In addition, the film’s depiction of Krampus was a pleasant surprise, as he was not your run-of-the-mill demon wearing a Santa coat, but instead a dark and twisted version of Saint Nicholas. On the other hand, the effects fell somewhat short when it came to the scenes including killer gingerbread men and their assault on the family.
There were more set pieces than expected, and the film spent just the right amount of time showing them off. The most beautiful scenes were the ones incorporating the characters navigating through the dark blizzard storm. They really contribute to the dark eerie feeling of hopelessness and isolation
The film yields many surprises; one of the biggest surprises is the animated montage depicting the grandmother’s encounter with Krampus as a poor child in Germany. This was a unique and artistic way to explain the origins of Krampus.
Nonetheless, I found the ending to be refreshingly dark because “sometimes you get what you wish for.” Krampus is the perfect blend of comedy and holiday horror, making for a truly fun holiday movie. It’s jam-packed with surprises, clichés, and relatable characters that bring this Christmas horror home. Although, it has its sub-par cheesiness, and mild creepiness it brings all the right messages, inspiring viewers to not lose sight of what Christmas really is about… not ripping up your Dear Santa letters!
Overall I rate this film 4 out of 5 UFO’s:
What did you think of the latest holiday horror film? Did you think it lived up to the hype? Comment below with your thoughts!