Movie Review: ‘Krampus’

Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

‘Twas the nightmare before Christmas, and all through the show, “Krampus” was frightening, and as cold-blooded as snow. There is no better way to aptly describe this movie besides saying it is, in short, what Jack Skellington imagined Christmas and Santa Claus was like.

The latest movie to hit theaters, “Krampus” releases on tides of Christmas joy and nightmarish terror which surely will warm up the holidays more than the cocoa you will need after watching it.

The movie starts off like many other typical family Christmas movies with the storming of a department store like it is Black Friday, and the main character, a boy named Max Engel, getting into a brawl with one of the wise men in a Nativity scene.

Beyond this, the movie goes the typical route: a stressed out family is hosting Christmas when unbearable relatives come to visit, havoc ensues and Max turns his back on the spirit of Christmas. However, instead of a family reconciling around a Christmas tree, Max inadvertently summons the ancient Krampus, the “shadow of Saint Nicholas” who comes to punish those who turn their backs on the true meaning of caring and sacrifice that is Christmas.

This being a horror movie about Christmas, it really hits psychologically on two fronts. The first being the fact that it is a scary movie with frightening imagery and an incredible level of pacing and atmosphere. Secondly, in the fact that the movie twists and warps the idea of Christmas, turning it from an idea of joy and happiness to utter fright and death. It is this exactly which makes the movie such a fun and scary movie to watch.

There are a few jump-scares, which are to be expected, but what the movie did was create a level of fear and maintain it before raising it again, and again. After the initial conflict begins,  the movie does not stop being scary because of how well the pacing of the story is. Every time things seem calm something happens, and then it gets worse, dragging the audience down into a terminal level of fear.

The visuals of the movie also are very unique in how they make the horror. In the trailers, images can be seen of demonic toys and in reality they are much worse. The movie takes the idea of Krampus, a story centuries old, and applies it to all he does.

He does not make the kids toys evil and monstrous, he brings his own porcelain styled gifts, wrapped like any Christmas present, before they try to kill the characters. Krampus himself is not a monster hidden until the end, in fact he is shown within the first act of the movie stalking a character in a torn tattered red cloak, with monstrous size and incredibly large goat horns. In short, he looks very much like a satanic Santa Claus.

In regards to the acting, it holds up very well. The two fathers of the film were Howard, played by David Koechner and Tom, played by Adam Scott. The actors performed their roles well. Everyone in the movie actually seems like they are family. Even the child actors do an incredible job of not just being the “helpless kids” of the horror movie but a true part of the story.

The best part about all the actors and actresses is that they had realistic actions and reactions. When they hear creepy noises in the attic, they stay away and stay together, when demonic toys start attacking, Scott’s character shouts out, “Oh come on!”

“Krampus” as a whole is a surprisingly entertaining movie. While the design for Krampus, once he is truly revealed, may have been a little weak, the movie stands strong as a Christmas horror movie. Once the fear starts, you won’t think that it is Ol’ Saint Nick who is coming down the chimney.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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