FINALLY. Time for something a little different. Technically, Krampus is a Christmas film. Technically, it’s also a horror film. It’s kind of also a… comedy? Whatever you want to call it, there’s definitely some genre-bending going on here. Other than Black Christmas, I can’t really think of any other (successful) scary Christmas films and no, Gremlins doesn’t count on account of it being so cute. Therefore, it just felt like a nice change from the average romantic Christmas comedies that seem to saturate this time of year.
Krampus is pretty much an anti-Christmas movie, all in all. It is based on old pagan Alpine folklore, in which the villainous Krampus comes once a year to scare all the children who have misbehaved. (There’s actually a pretty fun episode of Canadian supernatural series Lost Girl that focuses on the legend which you should check out if you’re stuck for things to watch. Just FYI.) Essentially, that’s exactly what happens in this movie. In this reinvention, Krampus and his cronies terrorise a whole family after one of the children makes a wish list that was created with good intentions… but then everything turns sour.
Demonic Gingerbread Men? Honestly I’m kind of obsessed. They might be my favourite thing about this whole thing – equal parts terrifying and hilarious.
Tonally, it falls just short. It all feels like it’s supposed to be a sort of horror comedy, but it’s more like a mildly humorous Christmas film for the first 20 minutes before the tone shifts entirely into flat out horror. Sometimes I was really confused about whether or not I was supposed to find something funny… and that’s not exactly the best sign, is it? Again, it was something different, at least, regardless of whether or not the genre-melding actually works in the end.
Aesthetically though – and especially for a relatively low budget movie ($15 million) – Krampus often looks really polished and interesting. Some of the classic “horror” shots were really bolstered by the snowy landscapes and there’s a little animated section right in the middle that was unexpected and really well done. Annoyingly, the pacing was extremely off; the whole film felt very stop-start, with some sections moving so quickly but others at an extraordinarily glacial pace.
On the whole, the cast is actually really good. Adam Scott holds his own and Krista Stadler is suitably sinister and ambiguous as the grandmother. No one holds a candle to Toni Collette though, who still brings her A game despite this movie being mostly average. She has possibly the best terrified face in all of cinema and I would follow her into a fire if she asked me to. I mean it.
Alas, I won’t be in a rush to watch this one again, but there truly are some good things going on here. Anyway, excuse me while I go and watch Toni Collette’s entire filmography.
Krampus is available to stream on Netflix (until 24th December!) in the UK.
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