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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Krampus movie review: holiday horror

Krampus red light

There’s no mythological weight behind this flick’s anti-Santa. This is more like a standard slasher horror, its baddie on a rampage of arbitrary carnage.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

You know that kind of horror movie that is so crammed with awful people that you can’t wait to see them all die in gruesome ways? Krampus doesn’t even offer that sort of pleasure. Oh, there are some deeply terrible people here, but the slaughter is so indiscriminate, sweeping the nasty and the nice up in its maw, that there’s little sense that anyone is getting what they deserve. Though based on authentic folklore, there’s no real mythological weight behind this flick’s idea of the anti-Santa Krampus: a demonic elf rather than a jolly one, he punishes everyone in the vicinity of transgressions against the Christmas spirit, putting, say, the frustration young Max (Emjay Anthony: Insurgent) has with the cruelty of the cousins he is forced to spend Christmas with on the same level as the cruelty itself. (Does an infant deserve to be punished because her family is mean and stupid? Does a dog?) So this is more like a standard slasher horror, its baddie on a rampage of arbitrary carnage, one that takes far too long to get to what is meant to be the scary stuff and then isn’t very scary once it gets there; recycling clichéd horror imagery (eerie clowns! things with strangely unhinging jaws! *yawn*) is bad enough, but dressing Krampus’s would-be terrifying helpers in dollface masks just seems like a cheap cop-out. Krampus sadly wastes a lot of talent — Toni Collette (Miss You Already) as Max’s mom is a mystifying presence here; I wish I knew what she saw in the script — along the way to a intentionally ambiguous ending that, no matter which way you take it, is both unsatisfying and makes everything that has come before moot. At least Santa’s lump of coal can be put to good, if practical use. This festive and not very furious punishment is ultimately pointless.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Krampus for its representation of girls and women.


red light 2 stars

Krampus (2015)
US/Can release: Dec 04 2105
UK/Ire release: Dec 04 2105

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material
BBFC: rated 15 (strong threat)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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