I went to see Krampus in the theater Wednesday afternoon. That’s right. I shelled out the eight bucks for a matinee and another six for refreshments and sat down in a vacant theater that smelled like wet cardboard and piss (great job keeping things clean, Smyrna Malco) to watch what I feared would be the most holly jolly abomination in Yuletide history. The cringeworthy opening montage of Black Friday shoppers mauling one another in the most deplorable example of materialistic human behavior set to Bing Crosby’s soothing melodies was so bad it was good. What followed was the story of a disgruntled little boy whose family has pushed him into disbelief and caused his childlike innocence -which normally would have sparked some Santa summoning magic to create a last minute miracle that saves the holiday- to conjure the antithesis of the jolly Germanic trespasser.
Okay, now that I’ve made myself feel smart with all those big words, let me bring it back down. Kid done gave up on Santa Claus and got stuck with Krampus instead, yo.
Shot very much like Gremlins, another holiday favorite of mine, Krampus starts out slow giving us a chance to get to know Max and his family, to develop a bond with each and every one of them before the horror swallows them whole. In the middle of an ominous, spontaneous blizzard, the entire family finds themselves trapped without cell reception, internet, or electricity…the modern equivalent to the apocalypse. Thanks to the wisdom of sweet granny Ommi, they keep warm by the fire with coco and cookies until the first of them, the teenage daughter, goes missing out in the snow. Steadily, an army of snow dwelling monsters, evil Frosty impersonators, killer cookies, wicked toys, a horrifying child eating Jack-in-the-Box, and elves in Purge style elf masks wreak havoc until Krampus himself comes to deliver a special gift to the little boy whose disenchantment with Christmas summoned him.
The cinematography is wonderful. None of this shaky camera, lense flare, I don’t know how to make a movie so I’m just going to wiggle everything around until you puke bullshit that so many directors (Michael Bay, JJ Abrams, etc…) constantly crank out. I mean, it has a very 80’s horror movie feel that has been missing for a long time from movies like this. The scenes were dressed perfectly and the transition from suburbia to frozen wasteland was gradual and perfectly executed.Writing, directing, and acting all being great, the best part was Krampus and his minions. Each was a phenomenal combination of CGI and practical effect that gave life to some truly memorable creatures. My favorite, the man eating Jack-in-the-Box was by far the best. Classic, Harlequin doll head on top of a sullied yellow accordion body complete with puffy clown gloves, dangling bell cap, and segmented jaw opening into a maw of spinning teeth. Krampus himself was magnificent but, rather than spoil the reveal, and they do build up to it before they ever show his face, I’ll let you see for yourself.
I can’t really say much more without letting loose those dreaded spoilers and, since there are two very special people I still have to take to see it, I’ll refrain from that. By far, it is the best Christmas movie I’ve seen this season (which is unlikely to change) and is destined to be a cult favorite.
I forgot about this cuddly little guy.