Holiday Fun with Krampus, or (Don’t You Take My Family, You Goat Bastard!)

It’s that time of year again. Songs about sleigh bells jingling blare over the speakers at your local malls. Christmas decorations pop up around the neighborhoods. It starts gradually enough, but before you know it, your entire life has morphed into a festive holiday winter wonderland. The snow piles up (if you don’t get snow where you live, then consider yourself one lucky son of a bitch), the temperatures plummet, and all of the good little children make their Christmas wish lists.

Johnny makes his list too. But Johnny isn’t what you would call a good boy. Johnny steals cigarettes from his mom and has developed a habit that’s pretty tough to kick. He beats up kindergarteners for believing in Santa Claus, but when Christmas comes around, he’s secretly hoping to see Saint Nick squeeze his jolly fat ass down that chimney with his bag of toys. Johnny is a greedy little guy who wants all of the toys for himself. Now, he should know that the big guy from up north is always watching, and that he knows if Johnny’s been bad or good. What Johnny probably doesn’t know is that Kris Kringle isn’t the only watchful eye trained on the children of the world. Johnny waits anxiously on Christmas Eve for the sleigh bells to announce Santa’s arrival. THUD! That must be him up on the rooftop! Johnny creeps down to the living room to see the old man backing gingerly out of the fireplace. But something isn’t right. He’s dressed in black, not Santa’s signature red jumpsuit. It seems as though Mr. Claus has undergone some kind of grotesque mutation. Are those hooves? And horns? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CREATURE OF CHRISTMAS TERROR?

Krampus

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette

Rating: Paul George (PG-13, for those who are less basketball minded)

Released: December 4, 2015. Yeah, I’m about a week late.

The date was December 12, 2015. Instead of watching the Lakers game like all of the other good boys and girls, I was a bit naughty. I have been lacking in the holiday spirit department for a couple of years now, so I watched this (kind of) new film called Krampus to prepare my mind and body for the rest of the holiday season. I should start off this bit by saying that I’m not an avid moviegoer, nor am I a movie buff at all or even a semi-professional film critic. That should make this more fun! It’s not that I don’t like movies. I’m not entirely dead inside. I just don’t often have the patience to sit in a movie theater unless it’s something that really sparks my interest. Was Krampus one of those films that I just HAD to see? Nah. But it looked like some sort of fun and I had nothing better to do on a Saturday night.

What caught my attention upon seeing the trailer for Krampus was that its lead star was Adam Scott, of Parks and Recreation fame. If you have never seen that show, you should give it a shot. Scott plays Ben Wyatt from season two onward and in my attempt to avoid spoilers for Krampus, I will refer to Scott’s character as Ben from here on out. Adam Scott isn’t the only recognizable face in this film, though. I was surprised to see Champ Kind (David Koechner, Anchorman) and Berta the Housekeeper (Conchata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men) as well.

So, before I dive into the movie itself, just what on earth is a Krampus? Well, if Santa Claus is Owen Wilson, then Krampus is Luke Wilson (if you can imagine Luke Wilson as a shaggy horned goat monster that punishes bad children). According to ancient-origins.net, the legend of Krampus has its roots in Norse and Alpine traditions as well as Germanic paganism. When a child misbehaved, Santa called upon his trusty sidekick Krampus to pay him a visit, “beat him with a bundle of birch sticks, whip him with horsehair, and throw him into a sack to take him down to hell for a year.” This old legend might shock some people, but I wish the tradition had caught on here in the U.S. Can you imagine misbehaving in a Krampus fearing home? “Colten, the next time you make your sister cry, the horny goat monster is going to drag you down to his hell hole and literally beat you into next year!” Man, I would have been terrified. And it would have been awesome. I’m from a German family, why the hell didn’t this catch on?

IMG_3998
Krampus

Anyway, the filmmakers altered the legend of Krampus just a bit for the film. In Krampus, the demon doesn’t single out nuisance children. It comes to take away families who have forgotten the meaning of Christmas. This is brought on when Ben’s son, Max, does a stupid thing and rips up a letter to Santa, proclaiming that he hates Christmas. Despite Max’s momentary lapse in judgment, he is still the wisest member of his family, and that’s pretty obvious. A storm rolls in, the power goes out, and Christmas chaos ensues.

Now, I’m not going to be one of those film critic assholes that shits on almost every movie that hits the theaters. There are good and bad parts to every movie and Krampus is no different. I have read a few reviews from various sites that have basically called it the worst film of the year. I don’t know what could actually hold that title, but I’m pretty sure you can find something far worse than Krampus. It’s billed as a horror-comedy film, and there are a few humorous parts. It also has a couple moments that will make you jump a bit, or scream until your brain explodes like those damn kids that sat directly behind me. I probably wouldn’t take your young kids to it unless you want to use the movie as a way to start your own Krampus tradition. They’ll probably behave better throughout the year if they see the kinds of gifts that Krampus brings. If you don’t plan on keeping Krampus in the family, it might just scare them away from Christmas. Or maybe they’ll just get a good laugh out of it if you have tough kids. I don’t know them. I don’t even know you. But if you’re looking for a good holiday film that is quite a bit out of the ordinary, look no further than Krampus. For the most part, it was a pretty fun ride. I feel like I’m obligated to say that the ending was SO close to royally pissing me off, but it fixed itself pretty quickly and I actually enjoyed pondering what exactly it was that I had just witnessed. It’s got something for the horror fans, the comedy fans, and those who can’t help but love a good Christmas movie. There’s nothing romantic here, though. If you only like romance movies, then I strongly suggest you reevaluate your life. Or expand your horizons and check out Krampus. It might not be romantic, but it’s still a decent date movie. Who wouldn’t want to watch a family torn to pieces by an army of demented nutcrackers and reindeer from hell?

IT AIN’T THAT BAD — 2 ½ Stars out of 4

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