Well it’s finally time for Christmas movies and Krampus may well be my favorite of all of them. Not that it’s necessarily a good movie, it may very well not be. But I liked it. It was campy and fun but still managed to capture my feelings about Christmas perfectly. It’s that time of year when we get together and spend time with people we (often deliberately) don’t see the rest of the year.
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.
When I ask myself if Krampus is any good, I can’t be sure. The friend who saw this movie with me said it was bullshit and he might not be wrong. It’s hard to pin down Krampus properly to judge it. It looks like a Christmas movie, but it isn’t really. It looks like a horror move, but it isn’t really that either. Krampus is not a movie to be taken seriously: it’s camp. It’s aware of its own campy nature and plays with the absurdity of its own plot, sometimes with great effect. The scary scenes were also ridiculous – it was equal parts funny and scary. This might sound good (I liked it) but was also detrimental in its way. Genre is important, it sets audience expectations that you can play with and different genres make different promises and have different reasons for watching. Try for too many genres and it waters down the emotional impact (whatever that may be).
For a movie that can’t really commit to a genre (comedy, holiday or horror) it definitely captures the misery of the holidays perfectly. In a magnificent opening sequence it highlights the greed, the materialism and the drive to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas. It then goes right into showing the awkwardness and friction of awful family members. By the time the scary parts hit, I was good and ready to see those characters get Krampused.
From a technical point of view this movie was well made too. The acting was just right, I found myself focusing on the characters and not the actors and that’s a good sign. The dialogue was particularly good and the all-important pacing was spot on. It more than passes the Bechdel Test. There were some amazing visuals as well. Krampus himself was an amazing silhouette, though this was spoiled somewhat by actually showing him close up near the end. One other thing I really liked was that even though it was silly in places, Krampus did not pull its punches. I can’t really get into that without spoiling it, but the entire movie was breathtakingly unsentimental.
So is Krampus worth watching? Yes. Maybe not at the theatre, or at least the first-run theatres; maybe not if you need to pay anything for it, but Krampus is worth taking the time to watch. I’m not sure it has much to say about my life (other than reflecting my horror of the holidays back at me) but there might be a message in there somewhere. Maybe it’s “Have Some Christmas Spirit Or Fucking Else”.