Let’s make one thing clear: I hate Christmas. Christmas seems to bring out the absolute worst in people and I’m not really sure why. From Black Friday massacres to being entombed in a house with your awful family, Christmas has become the most evil and horrible train wreck of a holiday. It doesn’t matter what you believe or how you celebrate the holidays. Maybe you think there is some kind of ridiculous ‘war on Christmas’ and you hate people who say “happy holidays” and correct them with a bitchy remark about it being CHRISTmas. Perhaps you are an Atheist who condescendingly reminds all of your religious friends and family how all the Christmas traditions have pagan origins and act all smug and superior around the dinner table. None of that matters. Christmas is terrible and every year as I smile and listen to my grandparents making mildly racist comments, I wish and hope for something to make it all go away, some terrible natural disaster or a terrifying beast that could cast the whole month of December into oblivion. This year, I got my wish. This year I got Krampus.
Or at least I thought I was getting my wish. I had some high hopes for this film and if I hadn’t raised my expectations I might have actually liked it. However I got the same thing I get every holiday season: Disappointment. Krampus (2015) directed by Michael Dougherty felt like a very confused film that got a couple of decent hits in the comedy and horror side of things but ultimately misses largely in both departments. This really surprised me because Dougherty wrote and directed one of my all time favorite Halloween classics; 2007’s Trick ‘r Treat. How can someone who captured the essence of Halloween so perfectly be responsible for such a lackluster effort? I could give Dougherty the benefit of the doubt and blame the whole thing on Hollywood. Some asshole producer, with dollar signs in his eyes got a hold of something original and pure, and threw a bunch of money at it and pushed it through the cinematic Playdoh easy squeeze machine. Maybe Dougherty just simply screwed the pooch. I just want someone to blame! TELL ME WHO TO BLAME!
Throughout the film, you start to get an idea of the film’s intended direction, and so many times I anticipated this terrible nightmare to be painted in buckets of blood. I wanted the gore and guts to fling and splatter and fulfill my deepest fantasy of wiping out Christmas for good, at least for this particular family on the screen. What I got was narrow escapes, minor flesh wounds and too many planned jokes and one liners. Horror comedy is a thin line to walk and Krampus bumbles through the line and just comes across as forced. It’s as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be a comedy or a horror film and this indecisiveness shows up in the product.
It wasn’t all bad. There were plenty of nuggets of gold that shined through. The beginning of the film hilariously shows us how barbaric the capitalization of Christmas has become. The opening credits show a YouTube worthy Black Friday beat-down and it seemed to be the perfect start to a fantastic film. Also, the design of the monsters is pretty cool. The beast known as Krampus is amazingly done. It looked less like the classic portrayal of Krampus and more like the anti-Santa. This horned and hoofed, sunken eyed, evil St. Nick terrorizes the neighborhood with his awful band of deranged Christmas toys. They all look very sinister but the monsters seem to have more bark than bite. In the movie’s defense, the Krampus of the film does exactly what Krampus is traditionally known to do, so maybe I’m just a bit upset that Dougherty stuck a little too closely to the source material (I know that’s not what good little nerds are supposed to say).
In the end, it was just too much camp and idiocy. It missed every chance to be the brutal Krampus film we deserve and I left the theater not really knowing what I had seen. The longer I had to think about it the more I didn’t like it. Just like Santa, Krampus didn’t give me what I wanted for Christmas. The director was right, the concept is there, and the foundation exists but the whole film seemed like a lost opportunity to make a really solid horror film.
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.