Saturday, December 5, 2015

Review: Krampus

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Despite promises of possibly being a new trashy seasonal horror classic, "Krampus" instead gets off to a promising start before descending into a series of nonsensical sequences that end up making the film more a lump of coal than a holiday delight.

The setup is fairly simple: a young boy named Max (Emjay Anthony) loses the Christmas spirit after his father prioritizes work over family, his sister snubs him and his gun-totin', football-watchin', monster-truck-drivin' cousins show up with the family's least favorite aunt, who is a foul mouthed alcoholic.

Just moments after Max besmirches the spirit of the holiday, a massive snowstorm descends on the family's house and the titular figure - who has gigantic, hoofed feet - and his band of bizarro helpers (more on those in a bit) begin to wreak havoc on the household. Good thing that Max's grandmother is an elderly German woman who apparently knows all there is to know about Germanic holiday demons and how to keep them at bay (keep the fire going, for example).

All of this is in good fun - although, I'll note that the film has the highest child in peril quotient of any movie, possibly ever - until it begins to take a turn for the absurd. I know, this is all meant to be ridiculous, but I began to lose interest somewhere between the attack of the Christmas cookies and the gigantic elves that weren't particularly scary and brought back memories of "Troll 2."

The film has a pretty able cast who manage to make you care about their characters, even though they merely become figures to be picked off as the picture progresses. Adam Scott is likable as the clan's patriarch, while Toni Collette is solid as Max's mother and David Koechner is the best redneck in a Christmas movie since Randy Quaid in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

But, alas, "Krampus" ultimately loses its way. The less you see of Krampus, the scarier he is. However, the more he gets up close and personal and, especially, after his minions (which, I should add, also include a demonic teddy bear, gigantic jester, flying doll and robotic toy of some sort) start taking over, the film seems to be going more for laughs than scares, although neither at this point are much in abundance.

So, if you want to see a truly scary Christmas-themed movie this year, it's best to just re-watch Bob Clark's creepy 1974 cult classic "Black Christmas." Or, of course, "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas."

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