By Tyler Hodg
Hi, my name is Tyler Hodgkinson and I am a total horror n00b. In this series, I’ll be taking a look at classic, cult classic, and modern horror films with ignorant eyes. Its concept is scary simple.
Krampus, a 2015 Christmas-themed comedy-horror film directed by Michael R. Dougherty, seemed like a natural fit to watch around the holiday season. While some are nestled up around a fire, throwing back eggnog, and watching kiddie cartoons, I’m witnessing a family being brutally attacked and murdered by a half-goat, half-demon creature and his band of ghoulish elves, toys, and gingerbread people—hey, to each his own, right?
For those that are unaware of Krampus‘s history, it’s based on a folklore often told in countries such as Austria, Croatia, and Hungary. According to the tale, Saint Nicholas gifted the well-behaved children with presents, while Krampus punished those who had been naughty throughout the year.
Krampus’s method of torture varies from country to country; however, in the American-made film, he murders the families of children who have lost the true meaning of Christmas—most specifically, young Max Engel’s kin. After the child abandons his wish list to Santa—which was not about presents, but harmony within his family—the demonic creature begins terrorizing the entire neighborhood, killing townsfolk and eventually the family themselves.
The concept of this film is utter nonsense, but that is also one of its most attractive attributes. As an ignorant Westerner, the story of Krampus was not something I was aware of prior to watching the film, and although the tale is modified in this iteration, the purpose of the myth is definitely not lost on me. A horror film with a message; what a novel idea!
While there are a few jump-scares and gross-looking creatures, none of the sequences in Krampus stand out as “can’t fall asleep later” scary, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The film does a wonderful job of infusing humor into the scenes, lifting the tone to something less terrifying and more suspenseful. After all, whimsical, yet demonic-looking gingerbread people lunging with sharpened candy canes is an entertaining sight that can bring you to the edge of your seat with a smile on your face.
Along with its humour, Krampus breaks the typical horror mold by including an animated sequence. A side story told by an elder Engel, the scene slows the film down and adds a dash of creativity to the already interesting Krampus fruit cake. More movies—not just in the horror genre—hould try to step outside of the box and explore new avenues of delivering stories.
In terms of well-crafted films, Krampus falls short of being a Christmas miracle; however, it’s great for what it is: a conceptually unique, tongue-in-cheek horror romp. And for that, Krampus is a good alternate tradition that’s worth dusting off each holiday season.