Krampus (2015)

I talked last year about horror during the holidays when I reviewed the charmingly bad Jack Frost. At the time, something was pointed out by the proprietor of The Eye of the Beholder blog. She basically said that horror during the holidays gives us a break from the holiday cheer. She is so right. As far as I can tell, this proud tradition started in the 1970s. However, I always think of my first experience which was the release of Gremlins. This was also the movie that sparked the false rumor that suicides go up around the holidays. I also talked then about my theory about how something good can be turned against you. Taking something wholesome, and making it frightening is a sort of an extreme violation. For a lot of the people, Santa is a joyful man who delights in providing presents to the good children in the world. I really like this and that is why I am eager to spread his gospel because doing so only spreads good feelings. However, some use Santa as a fear tactic to keep their kids in line. They use his excellent surveillance system as a threat, a Sword of Damocles to make kids stay in line and even snitch on each other to simplify a parent’s job. This philosophy also led to the horrible Elf on a Shelf which never should have happened.

Of course, we are not really talking about Santa today. We are talking about his double from the Upside Down and brother (hopefully) from another mother: Krampus. Now, anybody who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of mythology and folktales. However, please be advised that I definitely believe that Krampus should not be part of the story of Santa Claus. I do think that the story is a neat bit of apocrypha, though. Krampus is part of a rich history that originated in the Austro- Bavarian region of Europe. It figures that Krampus would come from Germany, the same place as the Brothers Grimm and other tales of the Black Forest. However, there is a history of people trying to unnecessarily spice up the Santa tales with dark or regrettable characters. Just ask Black Pete. While Saint Nicholas went from house to house rewarding the good boys and girls, Krampus did the opposite. Krampus beat or kidnapped the horrible kids or so the fear tactics said. Thankfully, we just opted for making kids afraid of getting coal in their stockings.

The movie starts off like many horror movies do by presenting you with horrible people that will most likely be terrorized or killed throughout the rest of the movie. I think sometimes they do this so that audiences feel less guilty about enjoying their deaths later. However, this is set at Christmas and I know how awful family can be around the holidays. You gotta put up with it and it makes zero sense. Also, there is plenty of charm and surprising depth to the characters so you cannot paint them as outright villains right away. A lot of them are dicks. Do dicks deserve to die? No. Do we want to see them suffer a bit? Probably. Of course, this movie is about having the true holiday spirit and how you should remember the reason for the season. Hint: The reason for the season is always celebrating, having fun and being nice to each other for once. Unfortunately, we do that by shoving a lot of people into one house.

The acting is really good. The movie starts out like a slightly darker version of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so you need some comedic timing. There are quite a few characters which is a little strange for a horror movie. Usually, you have seven or less so that you can mix and match pairings and keep things simple. The biggest names are Adam Scott from Parks and Rec and David Koechner from the Anchorman movies. The writing and direction are great because they really let the characters shine and the horror slowly creeps into the proceedings. They also take a long time to really explain anything but I like that. I don’t need my hand held all the time. On top of the good acting and direction, there are really good visuals. Legendary is known, at least to me, for creating movies with great special effects. (See Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Dark Knight). The stuff they created for this movie is absolutely terrifying. At some point, most of the comedy goes right out the window and we are in full terror mode.

Overall I would say this was a great horror movie. I went in expecting a lot of finger guns and silliness and, while it started that way, it definitely shook off a lot of the comedy. However, it was like they twisted a lot of should have been funny or sweet and turned into a nightmare. It was like the Upside Down version of Christmas. Everything was dangerous and vicious instead of jolly. The writing and direction were on point and I loved pretty much every point in the movie even though I was totally creeped out. They completely connected the movie back to the German roots of the folktale without forcing it. You should definitely check this out. I think it is a little underrated.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Krampus (2015)”

  1. Halloween 2016 Wrap-Up | Wolf of Words Says:

    […] Krampus (2015) 5/5 Stars – Rated PG-13 […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: