Happy Friday the 13th everyone!
It was a toss up between this and Black Christmas this year, but I felt Krampus was much more the Christmas movie than a horror film with a Christmas backdrop. It's definitely an unconventional Christmas movie but certainly one that shouldn't be dismissed. Our old friend Michael Dougherty returns to give us another great holiday film, centered around a young boy named Max who feels that Christmas isn't what it used to be and with the arrival of his relatives feels very disillusioned with the holiday and rips his letter to Santa into shreds, which causes the arrival of the mirror universe equivalent of Santa Claus the eponymous Krampus. Yes, I know Krampus is very much a deeply rooted historical figure in Europe like Saint Nicholas but I'm a geek, I make Star Trek jokes, so sue me. As far as my knowledge goes this was a very average movie in the eyes of both critics and audiences, if anything it fits the Trick r' Treat status being a cult classic film that slowly gets more of an audience each year. I'm not entirely sure what people expected this movie to be but I really liked it! It's not a straight up horror movie, it's PG-13, it has a bit of emphasis on comedy, while it starts going down to the wire early on in the movie there's not much in terms of scares. It's more like a Gremlins situation, where the creepy stuff is there but it's never focused on. I can see that upsetting major horror fans, and I can see people really not enjoying the Christmas aspect, it does fall inbetween genres but if you're in the right mindset and just want to see a well made, creative, and interesting movie that goes against the grain of this particular time of the year then give it a go. There's a lot to like in the movie and I really have no qualms watching it every December. I love the family interactions in this movie, they hit that so spot on and it really does feel like a situation countless individuals face, seeing relatives during the holidays that you could honestly live without seeing. And yeah, if I had some stereotypical redneck relatives coming to my house for Christmas I'd be in a less than jolly mood too, but as the movie goes on and when push comes to shove you can see they don't hate each other and find common ground with each other, they're still family and after saving each others asses a few times they start getting along. I think the actor who plays Max is really good, and does fit that 10 year old headspace especially concerning the Santa thing, and the relationship between him and the grandmother is actually very nice. I like the fact we see Krampus a bit throughout the movie and isn't just pure buildup until his appearance before the end, it's a great design and certainly carries a strong presence to the very end. Again, major respect for the director only using CG when necessary, there's lots of practical effects and costumes used for Krampus and his minions, and they all look fantastic with each having a unique design and are memorable. I absolutely do say this is a Christmas movie, not only do the visuals always have some aspect of Christmas in them, whether it be snowmen, gingerbread houses, decorations galore, and enough snow to go around, but it has that Christmas spirit to it. Because as it turns out, what truly summons Krampus is the fact that only when people have no hope, are greedy, self-absorbed, and have no love or respect for the season does he appear. All of which told fantastically in a straight up stopmotion story by the grandmother, so it does reinforce that you need to keep the spirit of Christmas alive. It's actually warranted in this movie, I gave some serious good grief to A Christmas Carol over the fact that most iterations have Scrooge basically scared into loving Christmas, but here it makes sense because Krampus is the exact opposite of Santa Claus and will take away the things you love most instead of give. They handle it very well and there's always a chance of redemption. Which leads me to the ending, which I won't spoil of course, but you can have your own interpretation of it. It's not ambigous but you can see it one way or another. I really like this movie and it should have more fans, it's very different absolutely but if the decision came where I either had to watch Krampus or some bullshit Hallmark movie which is the exact same movie that every Hallmark movie is, I'm picking the one with killer gingerbread men. Final sum up, Krampus has a place in the holiday season for me, and perhaps you should think on the words "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why" more carefully in the future. 4 stars, 7.5/10!
I'm being torn apart. I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?