The holiday movies are starting to roll in and this year we have Hollywood’s take on German folklore with, Krampus. Can a holiday horror-comedy captivate audiences or is Krampus better off in the shadows?
I have heard many things about Krampus over the years, but I never thought enough about this creature to actually do any research. Here’s how National Geographic described Krampus:
“Krampus isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams: Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kids down to the underworld.”
They went on to say this about why Krampus was created and what to expect when he appears:
“Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets. Krampus, in contrast, would swat “wicked” children and take them away to his lair. According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).”
Now that we have a better understanding of what this creature is, the question is did the movie do the character justice?
I love horror movies and I love comedy movies, those are probably my two favourite genres out of everything. When comedy and horror are mixed together, it quickly becomes my least favourite genre. There’s just something about horror comedies that I just don’t like/understand. I can’t think of any good ones that I’ve seen that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think the problem with most of these movies is that when they try to be serious, I can’t take them seriously because there’s always something that takes me out of the immersion and when they try to be funny, the comedy usually isn’t as good as it needs to be for me to be invested. The movie has a bit of an identity crisis that surfaces all too often throughout the film.
The main plot revolves around a young boy named Max who is the youngest child of a relatively wealthy family. Max is your typical kid who is not ready to let go of his Christmas spirit despite the many people and occurrences trying to bring him down. His sister who was once really close to him has come into the teenage years where it’s not so cool to hang out with your younger brother, his mom and dad have lost their spark, and his aunt, uncle, and cousins are a disaster. Max begins to lose his spirit and a blizzard ends up knocking out the power and the town becomes a ghost town. Krampus ends up coming in to punish all those who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas by taking away everything that they have. The plot is simple enough, maybe too simple, as the movie drags on for a large portion of the 98 minute feature.
Where the movie wins me back a little bit is with its use of CGI and puppetry for the numerous monsters and creatures that show up in the movie. I was actually slightly entertained for the 15 or so minutes that there was a bit of tension in this movie. I mean you can’t argue with gingerbread men attacking the family with a nail gun. If that’s not enough, there was also a very creepy angel (from the top of a Christmas tree) who loved to stick her tongue out trying to lick people and a Jack-in-the-Box who seemed more like a snake feeding on its pray than a toy. Even Krampus himself was pretty menacing, although the face took away from that a bit. The monsters definitely gave the movie some life after what was a relatively dull first half.
As I’ve said, if the movie had chosen to go for straight horror or comedy, it would have been a lot better. Krampus consistently could not make a choice between the two and the movie suffered for it. You didn’t have a connection to the characters like you did in a movie like Gremlins and the plot was far too forgettable to make this one a classic for years to come. This is one movie that I just can’t recommend, there isn’t much value in it and it was easily one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year