Nothing says Merry Christmas like a dastardly creature that is determined to send the wicked plunging into fiery damnation. So as the holiday’s edge ever closer say hello to the Krampus, based on the German-speaking sinister figure of European origin. The Krampus is a horned beast of sorts and acts as the polar opposite to Saint Nicholas (Santa), as the Krampus is tasked with punishing the naughty children at Christmas time. This figure is the perfect fodder for festive Horror and indeed this December Michael Dougherty’s Christmas Horror/Comedy Krampus is capitalising on this creepy concept. However before that point we have this straight to disc straight Horror feature, which is not lacking potential but is sorely lacking delivery.
Krampus: The Reckoning sees a young girl called Zoe (Amelia Haberman) have an unsettling connection to a creatures she calls ‘The Krampus’. As Zoe sits in a children’s hospital, strange deaths start occurring and child psychologist Dr. Rachel Stewart (Monica Engesser) tries to unravel this fearful festive mystery. No doubt this disc release is edged so near to the holiday season so that many may mistake it for the aforementioned film that people may have heard about. Unfortunately this is not the case. Now, Christmas may have a reputation for being all smiles and candy cane but as films like Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale have taught us, the holidays can be a scary thing. Sadly the only scary thing about Robert Conway’s ill-mapped out feature is the special effects.
Though the hospital-set crime narrative is not a boring idea, the whole film really struggles to get going thanks to feeling like a Syfy Christmas slot timewaster. The film would perhaps have worked better if it had not allowed itself to be so open to scrutiny but as opposed to hiding its creature in darkness, early on it reveals the Krampus in all his early PlayStation animation glory and from that point on you struggle to take anything else seriously. The twists are not particularly compelling or unexpected and the story is forgettable as a result, leading to a film that is not going to be occupying space in your mind all that long after viewing. Like we said at the start, Conway’s film could’ve been potentially fun or atmospheric but the rubbish effects that make the Krampus into more of a generic gargoyle, and the unnatural characters that feel almost anchored to the script word-for-word, means that this Horror is lacking bite and memorability.
On the plus side the children in the film are effective (Haberman especially) and the few parts of the film more reliant on build-up (Zoe’s sewing box/Krampus puppet scenes are very effective) do work better. The approach was just mistaken, as it opened this low budget film up to even more problems. As soon as the monster of piece appears so quickly it had better make a statement. If it instead makes you giggle more than shudder- especially for a film playing it for scares over laughs- it is impossible to take that film seriously from that point on, sadly for Krampus: The Reckoning that point occurs in the first 10 minutes. This film lacks charm, lacks frights and is a pretty bog standard slog that is as hard to recommend, as it is to recollect shortly after the credits have rolled.
KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ROBERT CONWAY/ SCREENPLAY: ROBERT CONWAY, OWEN CONWAY / STARRING: MONICA ENGESSER, AMELIA HABERMAN, JAMES RAY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10