And so we wrap up this year’s Christmas trilogy of reviews with a look into the subgenre of Christmas horror movies. Looking through the choices, there was a decent pool to pick from; “Black Christmas,” “Jack Frost,” and for a bit of a stretch, “Gremlins.” But after learning that a podcast that I’ve been enjoying and using to get into horror, Nothing to Fear has covered the movie “Krampus,” I decided to get check it out.
The movie centers around the Engel Family as they welcome the mother Sarah’s (Toni Collette) sister Linda (Allison Tolman) and her husband Howard (David Koechner), their kids, and Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) who comes unannounced. After a disastrous dinner, Max (Emjay Anthony) snaps at the family and rips up his letter to Santa. The following day, the family are trapped in a blizzard. After Howard and Tom (Adam Scott) try to brave the woods, the family learns from Omi (Krista Slader) that they are being visited by Krampus, the figure in Germanic folklore that takes naughty kids and throws them in his sack.
At first impression, I expected the acting to have me liking half of the cast and hoping that the rest of the cast would get their comeuppance. And while many of them did, I’d be lying if I said Allison Tolman and David Koechner had their solid moment. The secondary family members grew on me the way athlete’s foot does. Adam Scott and Toni Collette also gives solid performances as they fight off and show a stronger side to their humdrum personalities. I was rooting for them and Emjay Anthony to persist in the movie.
With the exception to the ending, the story takes a backseat for the rest of the movie. There seems to be potential for this to be a more brilliant subversion, but it feels too much like “Home Alone” with a horror coat of paint. Something good can be done there, but it isn’t doesn’t fulfill much of the potential there. The tension in the movie had strong moments, but felt a little too focused on the action. I could make a list of all the ideas that could have been improved, but I worry that it would feel more like a rant than it already is. And without spoiling the ending, I was initially impressed with it, but as I thought about it, it feels too sharp a twist that could have been done much better.
There are a lot of good ideas in this movie that weren’t as well-executed as they could have been. The cast has some solid moments, and some of the tense scenes are done well. But a lot of the film’s elements fall short and leaves you underwhelmed.