Krampus; or Letters to Santa are Serious Business

Hello and Hallo-welcome back to Hallowfest Octobfilm, where our intrepid bloggers Andy and Lilly are feeling festive, but aren’t daring to pout or cry. Christmas is a surprisingly rich vein of holiday-themed horror delights, and we’ll be looking at some over the next few weeks.

This week’s film offering: Krampusnewposter-krampus

Andy: Last year during Hallowfest, we saw an amazing portmanteau called Trick ‘r Treat, a fun, scary romp through the intersecting lives of some people having a very, very bad Halloween.

Lilly: Missed it? Click this inviting hyperlink to go and read it! We’ll wait.

Andy: This year, director Michael Dougherty gives us another holiday-themed horror flick to sink our teeth into, and off we went to the cinema to oblige.

Lilly: As if I need an excuse to get large popcorn to sit and eat in a dark room, the best place to consume large amounts of popcorn. But yes, continue on with the review.

Andy: But first, I hear you asking, what exactly is a Krampus?

Lilly: I didn’t, I know that Krampus is–

Andy: Well, as all good little boys and girls know, if you are very good, Santa Claus, or St Nicholas, will creep into your house on Christmas Eve and fill it with gifts and toys. But what if you’re not so good?

Well, I was always told that I would get a sack of coal, but because Austria and Bavaria are places where scaring the bejezus out of kids is practically a past-time, instead they threaten them with the Krampus, a servant of St Nick’s who instead of leaving toys, stuffs you in a sack and carries you off to God Knows Where. Fun times.

Lilly: Krampusnacht and Krampuslauf sound terrifying and awesome. Look them up!

Andy: The movie stars Adam Scott (of Parks and Recreation fame) along with Toni Colette and a host of semi-familiar faces.

Lilly: The film takes staple awful parts about Christmas (last minute shopping fist fights in the mall for deals you don’t need, family you hate most of the year showing up on your doorstep, so much food that you aren’t sure you like but eat every year because you’ve always had turnip at Christmas, etc.) and hits you with them as if they are a given. When the awful finally breaks the Christmas spirit of the main family’s son,he rips up his letter to Santa and throws it into the sky, wishing ill will on all those who ruined his holiday. As you do.

Cue Krampus!

Andy: So what we have is essentially a Christmas horror-comedy in the same vein as something like Gremlins, in which the transgressions of a family are punished in a ridiculously over-the-top fashion. There is great joy in seeing the generally pretty awful extended family menaced, and at the same time, there is a genuine sense of threat. The, er, ‘man’ himself is appropriately kept at arm’s length for most of the story, and when he does make his entrance, there is a real gravity to it.

Lilly: Yes, this film paid off for what it promised–Christmas comedy horror with some great creatures (thanks Weta Workshop!) and some ridiculous set ups. The trailer teased monstrous toys, and it one-ups that with murderous Gingerbread men. Loved it. Obviously we can’t give away too much, with this being a very new film (and one I hope to put into my holiday film rooster), but it is a) loads of fun and b) acted well for a film that has half a child actor cast. It had some interesting storylines, so old plot chestnuts that were decently used, and it wasn’t trying to hard to be anything but what it was.

Something I did want to touch on was the pacing of this film (we talk about it a lot, deal with it). It was actually quicker than your usual horror comedy, and what was really interesting was that the horror and comedy elements were sometimes on top of each other, so there were moments were truly horrific things were happening, but it would cut to the ridiculous and back and again, almost giving you mini-breathers between horror and laughter. Sometimes, it was clear what was supposed to scare you and what was supposed to make you laugh, and then, it would all melt together and you’d end up with scenes that were creepy and laughable and fun.

Also, as a side note: what was with everyone speaking English to the grandmother who clearly preferred German? I mean…what? They understood it, obviously, so…what? Anyway.

Andy: It’s good fun, overall, and probably worth your time if you’re into this sort of thing. My only criticism is that it falls into a weird middle ground – it’s too mean and scary for people look for a few thrills, but for others it may not go far enough. There’s a lot of bark, but maybe not enough bite.

Lilly: Yeah, this is one of those Holiday horrors that isn’t quite a punishment for all those bad girls and boys out there, but is still a lump of coal to throw into the midst of the other holiday television coming your way. It’s a enjoyable way to pass some time with your loved ones this season, so why not give it a go?


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