The most interesting thing about Krampus is probably how refreshing it is to see a horror Christmas movie that sidesteps the usual suspects (such as a directly murderous Santa Claus). But while Krampus isn’t actually very scary or even funny, it captures something just as welcome as horror comedies go: it’s fun mayhem.
In European folklore, Krampus is the evil shadow of Santa Claus. Rather than fulfill the happy wishes of children, he comes to satisfy their darkest desires with his band of merry murderers. A child who has become disenfranchised with how Christmas shapes his dysfunctional family tragically discards his Christmas list, which earnestly asks Santa to make everyone in his life happier. As a result, Krampus (and a magically frenetic blizzard) is called upon instead.
That said, little of Krampus is seen until the end of the movie, as we spend more time focusing on his “little helpers.” Thankfully, they almost steal the show with their remarkable practical effects and a willingness for the movie to inflict violence on just about anything in its way, creating a tension that mashes well with the chaos captured in an early scene that satires the greed of holiday shopping.
It can be easy to discount Krampus as a whole for a few rotten eggs, namely some of the performances and its odd “PG-13” rating. But it finds its groove with an inspiring throwback animation that cleverly tells the story of Krampus within a new context, coupled with a dreadful (in a good way) performance from the grandmother, played by Krista Stadler.
While Krampus may not ignite the sort of pre-Christian folklore that deserves more cinematic attention, it may prove that holiday horror is a genre worth larger budgets that keep it off the discount bin.
- Michael Dougherty directed and co-wrote Krampus, and the comparisons between this and Trick r’ Treat are obvious. The superior film is pretty obvious.
- This is a much better cast than I think the movie deserved. Adam Scott and David Koechner play quite well together, and the relationship between Scott and Toni Collete’s character is actually quite touching.
- It’s subtle, but the sibling relationship between “Max” and “Beth” was written so well, I was quite sad they didn’t spend much time together outside of the first act.
- No spoilers, but I adore the ending. I wish more movies would be brave enough to let their final act match the rest of the film.
This week on the podcast, we review Krampus in more detail, get our feet wet with some movie news, read your comments from last week’s show, and get down to business on our favorite animated movies.
I’m joined by YouTube sensation, Maria “Cineclub” Garcia; Film writer, Adonis Gonzalez; and digital illustrator, Kayla Savage.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is your favorite animated movie that wasn’t made by Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks?
Let us know your thoughts (and your favorite podcast moments) in the comments, which we may read on next week’s show! And be sure to rate the podcast on iTunes and/or Stitcher, where you can also download this episode. Or just Tweet us…@NowConspiring
Our Song of the Week is “Water,” the latest single from Ra Ra Riot. Their new album, Need Your Light, releases this February. Enjoy!