Review: ‘Krampus’

krampus review

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.

Grade: B+

Extra Credits:

  • 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!

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23 thoughts

  1. Does anime count… Akira might be my top film, if that’s an obvious choice. For America, how about those old Don Bluth films? The Land Before Time was amazing. As for contemporary CGI, anything outside of Disney-Pixar isn’t that good in the mainstream, but as I think about…. The Lego Movie for the win!

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  2. Definitely has to be “Fantastic Mr. Fox” ! Also “Coraline”, “The Lego movie”, and one of the best Christmas movies out there “Arthur Christmas” . I hope I get Kayla’s approval on this!

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    1. Also it’s nice to finally see another animation fan that doesn’t care for Japanese anime , Kayla you just keep getting better! I will have to defend Adonis a little on this , I do think Anastasia is beautifully animated and I do think Don Bluth did the right thing in hiring a tony award winning songwriting team in Lynne Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. One might say that was an attempt to copy the disney approach but it was nonetheless the right decision . Not as good as Alan Menken and Howard Ashman but still good. With that said the movie still has flaws and Adonis you just picked the wrong Don Bluth movie the correct Don Bluth films would be “Secret of Nimh” or “Land Before Time” . Come on Adonis!

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  3. My favorite non-Disney, non-Pixar, non-Dreamworks animated movie is actually a two-way tie between The Iron Giant and Anastasia. Behind that would be Land Before Time, An American Tale, The Swan Princess, and Thumbelina

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  4. My favorite animated movie is The Lego Movie. Now let’s talk about Krampus. Maria I hope you have seen it by now. If not, I’m really sorry. Much love to you girl. Anyway I disagree with almost everything you said about the movie. I hated all the characters. In fact I wanted them to die. It’s always a bad sign when you’re cheering for the villain. I also didn’t like that you didn’t see Krampus a lot. I wanted to see Krampus more. I didn’t go to watch Krampus’ Minions, I went to watch Krampus. Another thing i didnt like was the PG-13 rating. I feel like that rating was holding the movie back and it made some scenes a little awkward. This movie is really simple, and I did not like it as much as I wanted to. But hey, if you liked it then good for you. At least you guys had fun at the movies. That’s what really matters.

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  5. Alright, you conspiracy crocodiles. It’s time to talk about my second favorite animated movie of all time, second only to the original Toy Story. My second favorite animated movie is 9, from the year 2009, that stars Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly. A lot of people don’t like it, and I can’t see why. I love the way it looks and the story is one of my favorites of all time. I care about every character and I remember each of them too. The music and the tone and the imagery go together perfectly, and I can’t see why more people don’t love this movie. I would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve seen it, or if you haven’t, have I interested you? Anyway, in more hilarious news, I was wondering what are some of your favorite comedy specials so far this year? Mine is a tie between Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers, and Louis C.K: Live at the Comedy Store. I love the Comeback Kid, but I like these two more for the material. My Netflix recommendation this week is Fruitvale Station, a hidden gem that I’m glad I watched. Farewell, and don’t forget about the sandwich in your pocket. Bill Burr fans will know what I mean.

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