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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Krampus Review: The Gift of Sacrifice

Sometimes, you see a trailer and you start rooting for it. You buy into the premise, you get a little excited, and you lean into your gal's (or guy's... no judgment) ear and whisper "I really hope that's good." Having loved Trick'r'treat as well as Adam Scott and David Koechner. I'm hardly ever one to look at a tomato-meter score (in this case idling around 63%) and question it. But this time? This time, I'm  suspect.

I had an amazing time with it. It's rare enough to have a horror film (PG-13 or otherwise) that manages to be funny only when it tries to be and the acting is mostly tolerable. But that's what it does. None of this is winding up in anyone's Oscar reel but it's refreshing that every member of the film's (curiously nameless) family comes off only slightly heightened. Which in a movie with homicidal CGI gingerbread men is a minor Christmas miracle.

But while nearly everyone turns in B+ performances; shout out to Emjay Anthony for giving a child with anger issues believable depth and likability, its the shadow of St. Nicholas that rules every quiet corner of dialogue. Every disembodied hoof fall. Every knock on the ceiling. After his spectacular entrance (my vote for best scene in the film) you can't wait for him to show up again. He's not some mindless slasher villain. He's a hunter. A mad, pagan, god... and he plays with his food.

I could a spend a paragraph just describing the ol' goat himself. But his design is a bit of a surprise, try to get a good look at what he's wearing over his face. It's implications are... unpleasent. The idea someone like him can be in a PG-13 rating is incredible. I've always said if you can avoid blood, you can get away with murder.

The jack in the box in particular is a prime metaphor for what Kampus does best. It looks silly at first, but after you see what it's capable of, I sure as hell changed my tune. It never goes full bore body horror even though it seems like it wants to. So I can see why a hardcore horror fan might wind up with a less meaty meal then they would have wanted... but this isn't for them.

This is for the 6-13 crowd. The kind of movie you catch flipping through channels and just sucks you in. Before you know it, years go by and you're having a beer with friends. Somehow this movie comes up and you flinch. You're all "That Christmas angel f88ked me sideways when I was a kid." It's that kind of movie. One that eases you into deeper waters. A hearty and original appetizer.

All capped off with an ending that would befit the finer hours of the Twilight Zone. Something that leaves you both satisfied, yet unnerved. A classic it ain't, but neither is it a guilty pleasure. It's far too competent for that. Once people grow up with it, I'm sure the Devin Faraci's of the future will enshrine it.

So grab a couple friends, maybe pre-game a little, and just have fun with it. 

This is from a really, REALLY, good scene. I'll leave you with that.


  1. There's this girl at work named Anne who's the only person I know that I can talk to weird movies about. When Snowpiercer happened, she was the only one around who knew about it, and we'll always have brief reviews of stuff like Crimson Peak or Ex Machina for each other, which usually boil down to whether or not a movie demands viewing, or can safely wait for streaming services.

    This year, we stopped to chat and the subject was that there is nothing to talk about, at the moment, because Star Wars is happening and every other movie is like "newwwp" and staying the fuck away.

    "But Krampus!" I said.

    "I don't know anything about Krampus," she shrugs.

    "I know, I know. Who's it made by? No idea. Will it be any good? Probably not, just going on averages - but it's a movie about Krampus! That's weird enough to be interesting."


    So I told Kayla we should probably see it, and we're both pleased to see you have good things to say ^.^

  2. That I can talk to *about weird movies. Strange dislexic typo.

  3. This and Trick'r'treat (same director) have a really competent grasp on horror and comedy. In that the funny scenes are funny and the horror scenes hit that perfect "jump then laugh" sweet spot i love so much. His transition into each is really clunky is all.

    Like there's a really forced scooby doo moment when a chracter has to use the upstairs bathroom when a rational character would have just grabbed a bucket at that point of the neighborhood siege. But that allows it's best monster attack to happen so... it's a compromise.

    This ain't a classic, but it's monster design and the use of that eerie blue twilight glow off of snow is just... INSPIRING.

  4. Oh, OH and Douglas Pipe's score is just wonderful:

    Karol of the Bells