Krampus (2015)

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“Nothing bad’s gonna happen on Christmas.”

Apparently movies geared towards Christmas are some of the hardest to make. First this year we got the deplorable Love the Coopers, followed by the claustrophobic catastrophe of Christmas Eve, and finally rounded out with Krampus, the final pitfall causing audiences everywhere to beg for a ceasefire from all of the tinsel trash. Maybe more than any other film to come along in recent memory, Michael Dougherty’s abhorrent attempt at B-movie art embodies the new ideology of American culture. That is shown to be, with little effort and less effect by this movie, the noticeable shift towards lethargic laziness. Krampus veers away from film standards and feels more like a crappy haunted house: cheap scares, overpriced tickets, and a complete waste of time.

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The events begin at a store called Mucho Mart during a Black Friday inspired frenzy. There’s trampling, shoving, fighting. We know season’s greetings are the least of its concern, and still it’s constantly difficult to gauge this picture’s tone. A lack thereof can be fine sometimes too, so long as the mean-streak is more than just a shooting star. Krampus misses the opportunity though, its head bogged down by the PC restrictions of the PG-13 rating and not wishing upon the short-lived outburst of nastiness. Dougherty shows the evergreen casualty of the familial bond slowly being torn apart over time, and how sometimes we must suffer through and with the insufferable without choice. All suitable qualities for such an unbearable movie.

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In the eyes of Krampus, the true nature of the season is sacrifice. Max (Emjay Anthony) is the oddball out in his family. Mom (Toni Collette) and Dad (Adam Scott) aren’t really in love anymore. Big sis (Stefania LaVie Owen) stays glued to her phone in constant contact with her dreamboat. Matters only get worse when more family arrives. Uncle Howard (David Koechner) and Aunt Linda (Allison Tolman) come in guns a blazin’ – literally – in their Hummer outfitted for some good ol’ huntin’. They have four kids: two twin girls being raised as roughhousers, a chubby boy who stays mum because he’s busy eating or drinking from a 2-Liter, and an infant baby you only hope bucks the trend. They’re pretty much Cousin Eddie’s group of recluses without the laughs. These are bad people who get what they deserve once the titular beast – the shadow of Saint Nick – takes over the town. Max puts the film into action by tearing up his letter to Santa, sending the Krampus down to claim his victims full of jejune jolly. Krampus is not scary, or fun, and never humorous outside of the token drunk Aunt (Conchata Ferrell). Did I mention the babushka who sees it all coming and says nothing as she stands fireside?

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SPOILER ALERT!

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but tis the giving season, so I am choosing to openly criticize Krampus’ ending for two reasons. 1) You don’t need to see this movie. 2) There are better ways to spend your money during Christmas. As you might guess, everyone dies without redemption or loss or gain. The Krampus himself, along with his evil elves and murderous figurines, don’t present an ominous or substantial threat. Okay, they’re scary looking, but we don’t get a sense of dread. So, as the family offs themselves one by one to sacrifice for their kin, their fate feels inevitable, not character driven or out of genuine change. And then we get the mindless climax of a twist ending. These sacrificial lambs die for naught, waking up to a dreamlike sequence before realizing that they’re stuck in an eternal prison. It’s a snow globe, and an unoriginal masquerade that anyone with a brain will see coming. The little glass ball sits among countless others in the depths of hell, and as far as bad movies go in 2015, this most certainly signs its lease there. Krampus ends as it should, with its characters in a repository that might as well be a suppository shoved up where the sun don’t shine.

“We know you still believe in the big fat creeper.”

Rating: 0.5 out of 5

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