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Krampus is the evil shadow of Santa Claus who viciously attacks families who have seemingly lost the Christmas spirit. He is huge, he’s ugly, he has hooves, he jumps from roof to roof, and he has quite a few minions to help to do his bidding. Krampus is directed by Michael Dougherty, responsible for the indie horror cult classic, Trick r’ Treat. Krampus is marketed as horror comedy, but it’s probably better described as a Gremlins-inspired home invasion film. It’s a much lower budget than most movies arriving in the theater at this time of year, having a budget of $15 Million, and it entertains the best it can with the resources provided.
Krampus stars Adam Scott and Toni Collette as Tom and Sara, parents to young Max and Beth, and have bestowed upon themselves the task of hosting Christmas every year to Uncle Howard, Aunt Linda and their horrible children. Along with the equally unpleasant Aunt Dorothy, they make up a clan of some of the most unlikeable and meanest people on Earth. This causes little Max to lose all hope in having a happy Christmas. Max soon relinquishes his belief in Santa Claus, tears up his letter to him and tosses it out the window. This action results in the summoning of the evil Krampus.
Krampus terrorizes the neighborhood, destroying houses, cars, and torturing everybody in its path. Tom and his family have no idea what’s going on until it is explained, in awkwardly placed animated flashback, by grandmother Omi. Omi explains that Krampus has come for them due to the loss of their Christmas spirit. Soon after, the terror ensues.
Krampus is entertaining for what it is. I was expecting (and hoping) for more campy horror, but it is more of a straightforward thriller. There is some humor, but it takes place mostly in the first half of the film and not during the scary scenes. The scares are done using practical effects not CGI, so the monsters look pretty good. Though not the biggest budgeted movie, the money was well spent on the effects and the talent that was hired.
If you are a horror movie fan, you will not find this movie the least bit scary. But since most horror movies are pretty awful nowadays, this one is definitely above average. It was a mistake putting out this movie in wide release with a PG-13 rating, because it has so much potential to be a R-rated campy cult classic. You can almost see the places in the script where the humor could have been raunchier, and the horror could have been gorier. The horror is taken pretty seriously and it does not need to be. There could have been way more jokes during the scares.
The biggest problem with Krampus, however, is that you really don’t see… Krampus. Usually it is an advantage to the film to see the monster as little as possible in order to build suspense, but for a film entitled; ‘Krampus’, you kind of need to see more of the creature. There is plenty of screen time for his minions shown and they look great, but they are not really needed.
Krampus is watchable, it is ludicrous, yet entertains. Once this movie comes to cable, I can see myself watching this every time this comes on. But I really wish that it had a smaller release because rating it PG-13 resulted in sacrificing a lot of the humor. And I was not a fan of the ending because it was a complete rip off the popular horror film, Jeepers Creepers. If you are a die-hard horror fan, that Krampus is worth your time on cable.