Movie Review: ‘Krampus’ Suffers from Lack of Direction

(Image Credit: Universal Pictures)

(Image Credit: Universal Pictures)

Take all the time needed to figure out what you want to be. This is good advice for the most part: try a bunch of different things in order to learn which are best for you. Krampus is like a person who heard this idea and really ran with it. Unfortunately, they ran right into the ground for it is Krampus’s inability to commit to a genre or tone that really hinders it from being even decent.

Max (Emjay Anthony) is dreading Christmas this year because his aunt’s family is coming over to celebrate which he knows will lead to hectic uncomfortableness and palpable familial tension. Because of this, Max writes a letter to Santa, asking for a happier family. Sadly, one of his cousins sees it, makes fun of him for still believing in the big guy from up north, and Max ends up ripping his letter. This, in turn, calls upon the evil spirit of Krampus – basically Saint Nick’s evil twin – because Max no longer believes.

The house becomes snowed in, the two families are forced to work together, the kid is responsible for the chaos because of his new disbelief – these are good ingredients for a nuanced horror movie. It’s not the same five-teenagers-go-into-the-woods story, that’s for sure.

However, it’s unclear as to whether Krampus thought of itself as a horror movie or a weird family/rom-com hybrid with some horror sprinkled in.

Perhaps this is because the movie was just not all that scary. Sure, there are monsters and some loud noises here and there, but the effects don’t do their job. Along with that, a couple of the monsters are just plain ridiculous, fitting better in a kids’ comedy.

For example, there are these gingerbread men that attack the uncle, Howard (David Koechner). Howard gives slight signs of fright, but the fight stays upbeat for the most part as the gingerbread men try to stab him and he shoots at them with a shotgun (Yes, you read that sentence correctly). While it’s great to have some comedy inside a horror movie, this scene, like most, fell flat on both fronts: the funny and the scary.

Though, this isn’t to say every scene was a bust. Interestingly enough, Krampus succeeds best with some of its heartwarming moments between the father, Tom (Adam Scott), his wife (Toni Collette) and Max. It made me wish I was watching a straight-up rom-com in which Tom and his wife make their marriage better through the hijinks of their loved son. But, alas, I was not. And oftentimes any sort of momentum the movie got going with the development of its characters was short changed by the unneeded “scary” sections.

Adam Scott and David Koechner both give valiant performances, as does most of the cast (notably Allison Tolmon and Conchata Ferrell). It was strange to be enjoying the casts’ chemistry and acting, but to be disliking the movie happening around it. Scott, like I’ve hinted, plays a really great dad and husband who’s trying his best – the guy is adorable. And Koechner plays a slightly altered version of Todd Packer, his character from The Office, and does it very well. Unsure whether it’s an insult or a compliment, but he has a knack for playing the ignorant bigot type.

Unfortunately, their performances are not strong enough to carry the movie, not even close. The whole thing was just a mess. A mess with some promise hidden beneath it all, but still a mess – like a person trying to discover herself.

Overall, Krampus was not a good movie. I’d like to see a similar cast in a completely different movie – preferably one that can encompass multiple genres more seamlessly, or one that can more clearly define itself.

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