So the long awaited (at least for me) Krampus movie by Michael Dougherty opened this weekend and the DD team made it down on Saturday to see it.
Here is the Synopsis:
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.
In case you are one of the few people who has no idea who Krampus is, he is a traditional Christmas entity that is celebrated in Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Slovenia, and other parts of Europe. Other countries have variations (Zwarte Piet, Hans Trapp, Knecht Ruprecht, Belsnickel , etc) with Krampus being the most fearsome of the bunch. Many different looks and names but the general idea is the same: He is the counterpart (the Jungian shadow archetype if you will) To Santa Claus. Where Santa is benevolent Krampus is cruel, where Santa rewards Krampus punishes, and where Santa gives Krampus takes. His job is to punish bad children by either whipping them or dragging them to hell.
In the movie, Krampus has been given a substantial steroid shot as he is depicted bigger, more powerful, and far more menacing a creature who brings and entire entourage of demented helpers to capture his prey.
So how was it? Well, we were a bit split on the whole thing. We could both agree that the premise, the acting, music (by Douglas Pipes) and the effects were solid. But we split on the overall feel of the movie.
The story has great potential and delivers on suspense while it keeps the mood light and campy. The humans were believable and easy to hate. However, as soon as adversity hits they start to change and you genuinely feel sorry for them. It’s a complete 180 in emotion that really is a mark of good writing. The music is suspenseful and that last track will stick in your head. The creatures were creepy and well designed. But where I felt the movie held up well with all the additions to the lore, my wife felt the movie should have nixed the helpers (or most of them) and just left the story to Krampus.
I do see her point and I can somewhat see how they muddled the story, but at the same time I feel the movie would have been at a loss without the great imagery created by insanely creepy helpers.
There is an animated sequence early on that I truly loved (remind me of the Deathly Hallows story from Harry Potter) but my wife was turned off by it.
There was another point of contention (and apparently a lot of people feel the same way as the internet is a buzz over it) which is how it ends. I don’t want to spoil it but suffice to say I felt it really captured the feel of a “Christmas movie” and I don’t feel it detracted from the movie. After all, Krampus is a legitimate lore character and the way it ended not only left it up to interpretation but tied it up nicely.
My main contention with the movie is mostly with Krampus’ intentions being somewhat confused. There are innocents in the movie that seemed to be punished right along with the bad and that flies in the face of the spirit of the character. He is supposed to be a cruel but just character (whether he is forced to be or it is in his nature). There are a few scenes that just seem to make him out to be pure malice and they just didn’t sit well with me. Take them for what you will.
Overall, I think it was a success and a great addition to the very small genre of Christmas horror movies. It’s cheesy but they play it completely straight. Some of the imagery was truly haunting and even haunted my dreams that night.
I highly recommend it if you are a fan or Tick R’ Treat, Gremlins, or just dark comedy in general. It’s not overly funny and it’s not overly gory. It’s a good “gateway” movie. If you are looking for over-the-top horror and gore you will be disappointed. But, if you look at is as a cautionary tale in he vein of “A Christmas Carol” I think you will enjoy it.