I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about 2015 Christmas horror Krampus so my curiosity naturally got the better of me. I broke down and watched it to judge for myself. After all, it still counts as the holidays until New Year so I get a free pass to binge an all types of hoiday films for the duration. My verdict: If you’re into a crossover of Home Alone, You’re Next and Jeepers Kreepers, Krampus will be just your cup of tea.
Synopsis: Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) is a good kid who loves his family and wishes them the best. But sometimes, they just get on his nerves. When his aunt’s family arrives for the holidays and his cousins humiliate him for still believing in Santa Claus, his momentary loss of faith calls upon Santa’s dark shadow Krampus, who comes to non-believers on Christmas, not to give, but to take.
I would genuinely categorize Krampus as more of a Christmas movie than a horror movie, despite the fact that the film mostly revolved around how badass Krampus was. There were great CGI and practical effects that made for a creepy mythological character and his crew but somehow, despite his powers and his determination to terminate Max’s entire family, he wasn’t all that scary.
There were nice attempts to shock and scare but Krampus‘ helpers really looked more cute than creepy because they were toys. The bear looked like Friday Night at Freddy’s, the Gingerbread Men looked like they stepped out of Shrek and the rest looked like they would have fit in nicely in Toy Story, despite their homicidal tendencies. It felt like they were just having fun eating various members of Max’s family, making it more of a joke than a genuinely scary experience.
At first, it was clearly established what a jerk Max’s uncle and cousins were. And to a degree, their termination was directly commensurate to the annoyance they caused before Krampus arrived. However, as the film progressed, the film also established that they were not complete jerks after all. Howard (David Koechner) readily helped Tom (Adam Scott) when he went out looking for his daughter, Beth and even apologized for his previous actions when he had the chance. He also did his best against the Christmas cookies. It was fun to watch.
Instead of loathing her sister for her wealth, Beth (Allison Tolman) was content with her lot, raising her family and loving her kids. When push came to shove, her maternal instincts propelled her to do great things.
I liked Max’s family even though his mom Sarah (Toni Collette), was uptight and his sister was preoccupied with her boyfriend. I liked his dad and his grandma (Krista Stadler) most of all because they were the kindest most standup people throughout the movie. Tom looked out for everyone and not just his own. And the way he treated his son, wife and mother showed just why he would not survive to the end.
Krampus was more of a holiday family movie than a creepy horror film but at the end of the day, it was a pretty solid movie by writer-director Michael Dougherty. It was a middling horror that had a great cast, a decent story and good execution. Not groundbreaking, not original, not even scary, but solid. And solid is a good place to be.