While most people are aware of Michael Dougherty’s Krampus movie from 2015, it wasn’t the first horror movie about the mythological figure of the Krampus, which became a horror sub-sub-genre from the early 2010’s onwards, and i guess you could say Jason Hull’s 2013 movie kickstarted this “krampusxploitation” movement, the Krampus itself had been subject of some tv series episodes, but not a feature lenght film.
That or it’s pure coincidence some directors resorted to rummage Christmas legends and traditions, since the killer santa had been done to death for decades, they learn of the Krampus, did a movie about it, accidentally kickstarting another cheap ass fad. There are more Krampus movie than you’d think, the only good one i’ve saw (and i’ve pretty much see any goddamn movie with “Krampus” in title, i’m fairly sure) its Michael Dougherty’s, good stuff, but we’re talking about the other ones, which are considerably worst, to be extremely generous and forgiving, and this is no exception.
The plot of Krampus: The Christmas Devil reimagines the Krampus as the typical goat/satyr monster that kidnaps children from german folklore, bound to Saint Nicholas/Santa, but here they are brothers, one rewarding the nice and the other punishing the naughty. Jeremy Duffin (whom i’m gonna refer to as “Duff-Man” to make myself less bored) as a child is captured by the Krampus but manages to escape his clutches, and grows up to become a cop in the city of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, obsessed by his kidnapping, trying to fild the culprit behind the cases of disappearing children that occur each year around Christmas.
This sound like a plot, sure enough, but it’s one of those bad movies that tries to handle more than it can chew, and so the narrative comes with a generous serving of packing peanuts, with so much filler for a movie that barely clocks 80 minutes, any kind of filler you may expect, from short and scenes that don’t add anything or just reiterate things that didn’t needed to be told again, pointless fight scenes coreographed by an emù, things happening offscreen implied in a mixture of low budget and bad direction, characters that aren’t introduced but thrown into scenes, subplots that are there just to waste time, like an escaped criminal previously arrested by Duff-Man trying to intimidate him by drinking milk straight from the bottle and eating cookies.
A plot that would have resolved itself regardless of the Krampus.
This is because of the twist, which i’m not gonna spoil because it’s not even worth that, a twist that makes some sense… but it’s also pointless, has no bearing on the plot, just existing to set up some potential plot points for a sequel, and for some fairly cheap nudity because it’s a low, LOW budget and bad horror movie, throw some tits in just in case. Then again, nudity was clearly a more curated aspect than the script, given there’s no explanation in why the Krampus… basically let Duff-Man get away as a child, he could have catched up to the kid, instead of doing some moderate jogging after him.
From a technical standpoint, it’s amauterish as hell, with… cinematography, you can’t take that away from it, terrible editing with random use of embarassingly cheaps dissolves, negative effects, slow motion and fast motion, shaky camerawork that goes out of focus in many instances, crappy audio, cheap, really cheap special effects, terrible practical gore effects, and overall very low production values, the kind of movie done with some friends in your hometown on the VERY cheap, not using stuff found on Halloween 1 dollar stores for a sense of pride.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force had better production values, but this isn’t Weasel Rip My Flesh territory, to be fair, so… there’s that. It looks like a movie.
The best thing about it is the Krampus and Santa being “bros”, with a scene that has Santa terrorize a child by saying that if the next year he doesn’t behave, his brother the Krampus will come and kill him. And it worked so much that the child actor was scared of Paul Fern (here as Santa) that they had to cut some scenes. Poor kid. Acting is overall on the amauterish side, but i get the feel they tried, i’ve seen worse, even in this realm of bad and cheap horror movies.
In retrospective, it’s foolish to expect much from an obscure christmas horror film that rocks a IMDB metascore below the 2 out 10, and regardless of that, straight away looks like what it is, a really, really cheap horror movie, one so cheap it makes you wonder why. Not that i want people like Jason Hull (the director) to stop trying making them, at all, but stuff like Krampus The Christmas Devil makes me wish they didn’t bother.
It’s not that this movie is abysmal, the textbook definiction of “atrociusly bad horror movie”, with everything from embarassingly cheap and amauterish effects, editing that stitches together random scenes that exist just to make this thing go past the 80 minutes mark, barely (and even then, just because of the long ass credits), plot points that are either never explained, make sense, or actually matter for the plot, characters that are just cliches made flesh, shaky camerawork, laughable cinematography, etc. The nicest thing i can say it’s NOT what one would call “shot-on-shitteo”.
Problem is, this is so bad it’s a struggle to watch at all, is the boring variety of the “really, really bad”, the worst one, and bothering to watch it all to the end is just an exercise in self-flagellation, in morbid cinematic masochism, a confused movie that tries to mesh together a detective fiction/police drama with a christmas themed horror about the Krampus, and fails in both regards. It doesn’t even do anything creative or interesting with the folklore legends of the titular christmas devil, aside from making Saint Nick and Krampus brothers, but even then, it doesn’t do much with it.
Besides from Paul Fern accidentally scaring the crap out of a child actor while in character as Santa, so much they had to cut some scenes, which is kinda funny in retrospect, i gotta admit.
It’s probably on Netflix in your region, but even if you have a thing for self-punishment via bad cinema… you can find worst films that are at least entertaining to watch, and not just review. Watch it, don’t watch it, whatever, even “ironically” is a waste of time.
More shocking than the fact there’s a sequel (i’m doing that, of course), it somehow won the title of “best director” and “best feature film” at San Diego’s FANtastic Horror Film Festival 2014. According to IMDB, at least.