Krampus ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
If you like Christmas movies and also horror movies, Krampus is a combination of both. A boy named Max lives with his family in their beautiful suburban home. As Max sees all the Christmas superficiality around him, he wishes that Christmas could be the way it used to be. When his creepily androgynous cousins tease him at the dinner table about still believing in Santa and one of them steals and reads Max’s letter to Santa out loud, Max has what my mother would call a fit and says he hates Christmas and all his relatives. That’s when things begin to change for the family. A monster blizzard hits the neighborhood, the streets become impassable, the power goes off, it’s still a couple of days before Christmas and the house is crammed with sickening relatives.
In Austro-German folklore, Krampus is a demonic spirit who is the opposite of Santa Claus. If Santa rewards you for being good during the year, Krampus punishes you for being bad. Max has a German-speaking grandmother who, we see via animated flashback, had her own experience with Krampus when she was a little girl during World War II. Max’s declaration that he is through with Christmas brings down the hideous Krampus, the antithesis of Santa and the opposite of holiday cheer, on himself and his family. Krampus starts out as a shadowy, hulking being that jumps from house to house in the neighborhood, and things only get worse from there. The nearly silent grandmother makes sure the fire is kept burning hotly because she knows that if Krampus enters, it will be through the chimney.
Krampus is full of creepy snowstorm effects (I like snowstorms) and demons galore, including murderous Christmas cookies. Besides Krampus himself (itself?), there is a whole host of hideous elves to help him wreak havoc. In the not-very-likeable family, most of us will probably recognize some of our own relatives, especially in the grouchy aunt and the nasty-at-the-core cousins. With a nod toward Dickens, Krampus resolves itself at the end in the expected way. We’re all going to wake up and everything will be all right, won’t it?
Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp