Krampus is holiday horror fun, until the end

Colin Barry

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The German myth of Krampus is now well known, with the ‘anti-Santa’ figure appearing on television and in haunted houses across the country. It was only a matter of time for there to be a horror film about the monster.

Michael Dougherty, who directed the cult classic horror film “Trick R’ Treat,” brings the character to life for audiences in a funny throwback to 1980s horror films that lacks scares.

The film takes place three days before Christmas, and young Max (played by Emjay Anthony) just wants to enjoy holiday traditions. Unfortunately, the rest of his family does not share his yuletide cheer. After a fight with his cousins, a blizzard hits the neighborhood and the family starts getting attacked by strange, Christmas-themed monsters. Max’s grandmother (played by Krista Stadler) tells them the genuinely terrifying story of Krampus, a demon who takes those who lost Christmas cheer and drags them to hell with his minions.

Easily the highlight of the film is its atmosphere. The snow covered neighborhoods and lack of overall Christmas cheer, despite the over-the-top decorations being there, give “Krampus” a unique look that isn’t seen within horror films. It also helps keep the overall chilling feeling that the movie is supposed to give off.

A solid cast carries “Krampus.” Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Dave Kochener and a hysterical performance from “Two and a Half Men’s” Conchetta Farrell keep the film entertaining. Child star Emjay Anthony’s sympathetic performance really makes the audience root for him as all he wants is to have a nice Christmas for once.

The effects and costumes are grotesque, but in a good way. Dougherty used a lot of practical effects in his other films, and “Krampus” is no different. The monster of Krampus itself is quite the Grinch, and has the physical makeup to show for it.

The film’s bizarre tone and imagery may not be for everyone. The average moviegoer isn’t going to look for a horror film that creates an evil jack-in-the-box or has a very cynical take on Christmas. It very much feels like Dougherty tried to recreate the feeling of his other films, but the studio wanted it to be mainstream.

There are a lot of horror clichés that feel forced in to the point where the middle of the film could be called “Horror 101.” Considering the creativity of the rest of the movie, it just doesn’t work and will make moviegoers bored.

The ending absolutely kills “Krampus.” Without revealing too much, the film has a moment that actually ties into the theme of the story that Max’s grandmother tells earlier and then fades to black after a rather depressing and dark final scene. Then the next ten minutes start and goes against everything that the film was building up towards. It’s convoluted and not all that interesting of a twist either. The audience is just going to look at the screen with a confusing look or walk out in anger.

“Krampus” is worth checking out for its effects and atmosphere, which are to please most horror fans. The performances form the main cast, including Anthony, are well done and do help keep the film going at a decent pace. The projected audience, it’s uncreative middle and rather stupid ending are what keeps it from being a real winner this Christmas.