Saturday, December 5, 2015

Horror Film Review

Krampus (2015):  Lauded as a new classic holiday comedy/horror flick in the tradition of Gremlins.  It's really not.  Dammit.  I was hoping.  What I got is one of those "almost" movies that's too PG-13 to be viable as horror and too on the nose regarding annoying family members to be truly funny.  And I have a hunch that the studio fat cats were allowed too much input, which resulted in this cinematic equivalent of a stocking full of coal.  Humbug.

All pre-teen boy Max (Emjay Anthony) wants is to celebrate Christmas with his family and recapture the magic from Christmases past.  Unfortunately, people grow up and apart and Max's family has lost what spirit they once had.  Frustrated at everyone, Max declares he hates his family, hates Christmas, and then rips his letter to Santa to shreds.  Bad idea.  An inexplicable blizzard whips up, power and cell service is lost, and no one seems to be out on the roads.

Worried about her boyfriend who lives only a few blocks away, Max's sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) decides to walk to his place.  Not terribly bright of her.  Yeah, she doesn't quite make it there.  Her dad (Adam Scott) and uncle Howard (David Koechner) go look for her in Howard's Hummer.  They're attacked, Tremors-style, by something under the snow.  Something else destroys their ride.  They limp back and barricade the house.  That's when the shit really hits the fan.  All manner of evil toys, along with a few rogue gingerbread men, attack.  It's kinda scary and kinda silly.  I wasn't sure if I should laugh or freak out.  I ended up doing neither.  At one point, Max's German grandmother (Krista Stadler) finally shares her story (told in bizarre flashback animation) about her run in with Krampus when she was a girl about Max's age.  It took her folks but let her live, supposedly as a example to others.  When the others make a break for it, she remains behind to confront Krampus, a ten-foot tall, cloven hoofed monstrosity that, annoyingly, doesn't speak.  The encounter doesn't end well for grandma.  If I'm honest, and spoiling the ending, things don't end well for anyone.  Even Max.  Or do they?  There's a twist, of a sort.  I'm very surprised the marketing morons decided to advertise the twist in the movie poster.  Yes...Krampus doesn't kill.  He collects.

There are a few positives.  Max is cute and sincere and I found myself rooting for him every step of the way.  Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) is a hoot and the source of most of the film's humor.  And other than Beth's ill advised walkabout, the characters didn't make the usual horror movie blunders (taking a shower, going off alone, etc.).  There were other blunders, though.  No explanation of Krampus' origin other than to say he's thousands of years old and a shadow of St. Nick.  The lack of gore is simply unforgivable.  But perhaps the biggest blunder of all is the absence of St. Nick himself.  As the film wore on, and Max recanted his earlier declaration and even offered his life for the life of his cousin, I honestly thought Santa would swoop in and kick some Krampus ass.  Man, that would have been groovy.  Alas, it was not to be.  Dammit.

The Skinny

Acting:  Anthony as Max is quite impressive.  Toni Collette is good (as usual) as Max's mom.  Scott is a bit wooden as the dad.  I really liked Allison Tomlin as Howard's wife.
Story:  Way too many "oh, if only" moments.  Also too many "WTF" moments.  If Krampus wants to collect, then why are all his toys and gingerbread men trying their damnedest to kill everybody?  Also, is Krampus there just for Max's family or the whole neighborhood?  And if the neighborhood, why?  When it was Max's actions that precipitated the onslaught?  Maybe I think too much...
Direction:  Haphazard is a strong word and yet the most appropriate.
Production Values:  I will say God, the blizzard looked real.  You know how hard that is to get right?  Snow looked like snow and not potato flakes.  Beyond that, the bulk of this $15 million film is set in the house.  It could have been the theater's fault, but toward the end, it became increasingly difficult to understand the dialogue.  As if someone turned the mid-range all the way down.
Gore/FX:  None.  There is a dash of blood when Howard gets his leg munched on, but that's it.  The CGI isn't awful.  The Krampus make-up and outfit is too busy.  Can't really tell what the hell he's supposed to be.
Scares:  They tried, but I didn't bite.
Ending:  It's like fruitcake...leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Verdict:  Should you see Krampus?  It's not that this is a terrible film, it's that it could have been so much better that rankles me.  Still, I can't recommend it.  For crazy, holiday horror (rated R) I will, however, recommend Rare Exports - A Christmas Tale.  No humbug there.

Rating:  2 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment