Krampus Review (Spoilers)

We can all relate to past experiences of our parents using Santa’s “nice list” as blackma- I mean, incentive to behave well, but what about the naughty children? Sure, there’s a “naughty list”, where naughty children receive coal for Christmas, but Santa Claus also has an evil counterpart - “Krampus”. The movie centers around - you guessed it - Krampus, a terrifying monster resembling a goat, wearing Santa’s clothing. Now, you might say this review is a bit premature since Krampus seems like a Christmas movie, but just take a look at The Nightmare Before Christmas- it’s two holidays in one movie! That’s my excuse as to why we’re reviewing this horror-Christmas movie in November, it has both Halloween horrors and a dark Christmas theme. Heads up, spoilers are abound.

To introduce the film, it begins with a shot of a stereotypical Christmas shopping spree accompanied by cheerful Christmas music, which quickly devolves to chaos as... stuffed animals are torn open, skateboards are used as weapons, and couples are tasered? We also see our main characters getting into a fight with actors in a play- is this the stuff that happens at Walmart during December? We then see a character named Omi, played by Krista Stadler, at home, preparing iconic Christmas desserts, as the rest of the cast return from their brawl- her son Tom (Adam S), Sarah (Toni C), Beth (Stefania O), and Max (Emjay A). Max’s plans to write a letter to Santa are revealed to Omi, and is it just me, or is it unusual for teenagers to swear at their parents? Because that’s what’s going on here, as Beth and Sarah also start to complain about the neighbor’s dog.

Max eventually finishes his letter just as more relatives arrive- more pickings, right?- including Sarah’s sister, the sister’s husband, and his four children, one of which is his baby daughter, along with Sarah and her sister Linda’s aunt Dorothy.  And sorry to be rude, but Stevie and Jordan (daughters) honestly seem like boys, and Dorothy just reminds me of Augustus Gloop’s mother from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. From their first arrival, we can see the varying personalities of the family members: Howie Jr. is the type of kid who cares about nothing except for food. Prediction: Krampus will get him first. Stevie and Jordan are typical bullies, and seem like they’ll make it halfway or to the end of the movie before dying. You know what? All the relatives are basically jerks, except maybe Linda. Howard pokes fun at Tom’s high school years, Dorothy criticizes Sarah’s cooking, and heck, even the baby throws food on the ground for the dog to eat. No wonder they’re all on Krampus’ hit list, none of them have any Christmas spirit…

Max is clearly upset after Stevie and Jordan mock his wish list to Santa, and storms off to his room, his father trailing after him to give him a fatherly pep talk. Max tears his letter in frustration and tosses it into the wind, where a convenient breeze carries it away. We get to witness a magnificent CGI blizzard sweep the town and cause blackouts - reminds me of Goosebumps. An innocent snowman is shown, perhaps this iconic symbol of Christmas will become a monster? Anyways, Linda answers a knock at the door to find gifts left for them by unknown persons, (we can guess) and, of course, they take them in unquestionably. It's a horror movie, after all, do you expect them to have sense?

 

Things start to go awry when Beth goes outside to check on her boyfriend (in the middle of a blizzard, mind you, what are they thinking?) and encounters the legend himself, Krampus, for the first time. Beth is terrified (I'd be too) and runs until she comes across a now frozen mailman and his truck under which she hides. Beth, please, why not just run back to your house? We get a very “Jurassic Park” feeling from Krampus now sniffing out Beth from under the truck, but the beast takes flight as his patience thins, leaving behind innocent seeming Christmas presents. As you can guess, they end up being not so innocent, startling the audience as the off screen monsters devour Beth. Quite a shame, I expected Howard Jr. to be the first to go. The kids back at the house realize it's a bit strange Beth just disappeared, and Tom and Howard set off to find her, bringing guns (on Christmas Eve?) with them after seeing a deserted snowplow. Tom and Howard make their way to Beth’s boyfriend’s house, finding it eerily empty, save for an impaled gingerbread man on the fridge. The duo hear what seems to be Beth screaming and race outside, only for Howard to be suddenly dragged down by some unknown beast (Wampa? Snow antlions?), forcing Tom to jump into action to save him.

The two wisely head back home, where Howard is treated for his wounds and Tom suggests to stay put (good job, Tom). As the night rolls by, more snowmen seem to appear outside, and Howard offers to take up guard duty, but ends up falling asleep. With the family now asleep, a strange hook is brought down the chimney (yes, like Krampus is catching fish), and Howard Jr. is stupid enough to take the bait, making him the second to die.

Next up, Omi explains her relationship with Krampus: she grew up in a poor, rough neighborhood, and somehow ended up with a bell from Krampus she has kept to this day. Interestingly enough, this bit of the movie was neatly animated instead of portrayed by actors. After expressing his feelings about Omi’s story (he doesn’t buy it), Howard goes outside searching for his son, only to be faced with an army of snowmen and, unbeknownst to him, elves lurking in the shadows. Back inside, as the gang tries to think of a plan, the suspicious toys brought in earlier start coming to life. Stevie and Jordan wander off, following the strange voice of Beth, followed by Linda, Tom and Sarah while Howard is left to fend for himself downstairs. Upstairs, they find a monster who swallows Jordan whole, and before Howard can come to the rescue, he’s shot with a nail gun by malevolent gingerbread men. As the crew is attacked by toys upstairs, Rosy the dog is the one to save Howard by eating the dangerous candies that threaten him. Unable to save Jordan, the three parents and Stevie head downstairs, and Rosy meets his tragic death trying to fight the slithering monster in the vents. We see the toys upstairs and the elves outside work together to kidnap Dorothy, Howard and the baby, stopped only by Krampus’ howling outside.

With the elves taking their leaves, Omi stays behind and heroically sacrifices herself to Krampus, who shows himself clearly for the first time, to bide time for the rest to escape. The remainder of the family heads for safety outside, and are attacked by the subterranean beasts seen earlier in the movie, resulting in the deaths of both Linda and Tom. Lots of tragic deaths and “I love you’s” get tossed around here, I was half expected Krampus to throw out an “I love you” too. The surviving crew can’t get their escape car working and are captured by the elves, who present Max with his torn up letter and give him a bell - the same one Omi had. Still searching for Stevie, Max stumbles upon a ritual being performed by the elves and Krampus, and despite Max insisting he be sacrificed instead of Stevie, both of them are ultimately thrown into the pit in the middle of the ritual. The screen brightens, and as the characters wake up again on Christmas day, it seems they’ve all been put inside of a snow globe. Oh, and of course, there’s a jump scare at the end.

After thinking about the movie, I’d give Krampus an 8/10. Not only is the premise a killer idea - a horror movie about Christmas icons - the plot is good, suspense exists throughout Krampus’ entirety, keeping you guessing who’s going next, and the film had respectable comedic moments, such as the elf being eaten by the “Snow Mole”. The movie honestly wasn’t the scariest, but it sure was entertaining. Oh, and don’t get upset for my spoiling of the movie: I did warn you.