I’m not sure when it happened but for some time, the Christmas Movie was dead. I’m not even kidding; the last mainstream Christmas Movies prior to the year 2015 that I know of were the forgettable but entertaining SILENT NIGHT (2014) remake and the much maligned Right-Wing punchline SAVING CHRISTMAS (2014) which I only saw via Cinema Snob reviewing it on his Youtube channel (Trust me when I say that it’s fucking horrid, even if I only saw it second hand). In every shape and form, the Christmas Movie was deader than Filipino political integrity for roughly half a decade for reasons unknown. Maybe it was due to that entitled petty “War On Christmas” bullshit that rages on the news every December or maybe it was simply because the formulaic Christmas Movie got dated but whatever the case, Christmas on the big screen was dead and all but forgotten in the years past.
The year 2015, on the other hand, seems dead set on bringing the Christmas spirit season back to cinemas but in a different light, as seen in the way KRAMPUS resurrects the whole Holiday Family Movie shtick only to slaughter the living fuck out of every fucking Christmas stereotype in the most demented Yuletide manners imaginable. For starters, KRAMPUS opens with the most accurate representation of the Holiday season I’ve seen, wherein family members struggle not to punch the everloving fuck out of their condescending relatives while sitting around a dinner table and bullshitting their way till New Year with fake smiles and an endless parade ass kissing. Any movie that captures the reasons why I bloody hate the month of December immediately gets brownie points from my end of the front.
Hearkening back to the days when the PG-13 rating actually meant something, KRAMPUS pays homage to Horror Movies from the 80’s like GREMLINS that were made accessible for everyone without pandering to anyone with the goal of making every member of the audience shit their pants and laugh about it later. For those like myself who have grown sick and tired of the new decade’s brand of “Horror” that limited a once mighty genre dedicated to the darkness of human imagination to a fucking security camera stuck on some godforsaken corner that obscures everything that’s happening, KRAMPUS is a welcome blast from the past that relies more on actual build-up for its surprise scares instead of using cheap shots to imply tension. Rather than drown the entire fucking movie with child-friendly Jump Scares or barrels of blood meant to appease those who jerk off to CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, KRAMPUS does the 80’s manner of PG-13 Horror where the atmosphere effectively does the scaring while the spectacle (in this case, Fucking Evil Extortionist Santa and his legion) are used only when it would really counts. While it does take some time for the titular Fucking Evil Extortionist Santa to appear, KRAMPUS uses its time wisely to equally pace out what little character development there is alongside the build-up that leads to the effective monster reveals. There’s never a boring moment in this particular Horror Movie, even if the camera’s locked on the very alive human Main Characters.
As is with every Horror Movie ever made, Character Development is obviously not the focus of KRAMPUS but as far as genre standards go, KRAMPUS does a pretty fine job of fleshing out the characters stuck in a house that’s under siege by Tim Burton’s Christmas cards. You have to give it to KRAMPUS for making every single one of the story’s twelve or so characters have a moment to shine (or die) and not let one of those motherfuckers hog the spotlight, even if the moment is just begging for it. In a genre where people only exist to get gutted in the most brutal ways possible, KRAMPUS goes out of its way to make damn sure that each of the people in the doomed family holiday gathering are more than just bloodbags waiting to explode. I’m not gonna bullshit anyone and claim that you’re going to cry every time a character gets mauled to death but if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that each death will add to the mounting sense of dread as Fucking Evil Extortionist Santa takes more souls to his Christmas hell.
But enough of the people who get slaughtered by H.P. Lovecraft’s Christmas decor, what matters most in a Horror Movie is whatever it is that does the damn killing and in this case, it’s the Fucking Evil Extortionist Santa and his legion of Demonic Minions. According to the movie’s lore (and by extension actual Germanic lore), Krampus exists as a Holiday Enforcer that reminds you that you better enjoy your fucking eggnog or Santa’s demented redneck kin will condemn your mortal soul to eternal suffering and death and while that may sound like the most unholy form of racketeering known to man, it works perfectly for the movie. KRAMPUS never takes itself seriously and it just goes batshit insane with its concept as seen in the impressive creature designs that rely heavily on Practical Effects to come to life. There’s a certain weight to the movements of the titular Krampus and his Demonic Minions (whose ranks include a fucking cannibalistic slug in the form of a Jack In The Box) that a CGI counterpart can never capture, making their presence more threatening and tangible as compared to, say, the 2011 remake of THE THING where the aliens looked like some shit out of a boss fight in a RESIDENT EVIL game from the last generation of game consoles.
Old-school to its very core, KRAMPUS serves as more than just a Cosmic Horror Reminder that we should enjoy the annual tradition of shoving plastic trees up an angelic ornament’s asshole unless we want to fuck with the powers that be, but it also reminds people about what makes the Horror Genre great. It’s more than just seeing people get brutally murdered; at its best, it’s also an avenue for creativity and entertainment, albeit a very dark and morbid take on said forms of enjoyment. KRAMPUS will not win any awards any time soon outside of the Horror circuits and I have no illusions that the movie in question is nothing more than a Cult Popcorn Horror Movie in the making but as it is, it’s one of the best offerings a stale genre has had to offer in some time, even if a few more scares would’ve greatly benefited the final product.
It’s not for everyone since not everyone watches bloodbags explode during the Christmas season unless it’s done metaphorically while trying to tolerate your stuck-up cousins when they talk about their nth circle jerk of a story but for those who always found the macabre fun and entertaining, KRAMPUS is a welcome early Christmas gift, brought to you by the Fucking Evil Extortionist Santa.