I watched Krampus in preparation for the Halloween Horror Nights house, and…it was about what I expected it to be. I didn’t even end up going into the house; I figured it would be the haunted house equivalent of a Christmas-themed horror movie starring Parks and Recreation and The Office regulars. Jokes aside though, Adam Scott’s presence in the movie was actually what drove me to watch it in the first place (he played my favorite character on Parks and Rec), and I have to salute him for still giving as great a performance in this subpar horror/drama as I’ve seen from him in much better comedies.
Krampus’s first mistake was its omnipresent high-pitched, squeaky sound effects. I know that it was probably meant to be funny, but it kind of stomped on this movie’s potential. The film could have been fifty percent scarier if it had nixed those in favor or something more violin-heavy. A well-crafted ominous soundtrack probably would have helped it out. I like how they incorporated Christmas songs, but when it comes to horror flicks, the score alone should be enough to terrify.
This film differs from more classic horrors in that the writers really managed to create a somewhat diverse cast of characters for this family (The foreign grandmother, the 2nd Amendment-loving uncle, the tomboy twins). However, they also involved the cliched boy-crazy teenage girl, the troubled boy who gets into fights, the chubby kid who does nothing but eat, and the parents with a strained relationship, and all of these seem like staples of the genre to me. However, Krampus gave us something more than that, too (along with quite a few characters I was able to care about), so I’ll give this movie credit where it’s due. Kudos.
On the flip side, as far as the actual story goes, I wasn’t impressed at all. Maybe it’s because I’m treating it more as a failed horror movie than an okayish drama, but it was corny, filled with cliched one-liners and, like I said, sound effects that annoyed the hell out of me. And despite it leaning towards the drama end of the genre spectrum, the plot employed the age-old cliche of characters who react to their situations in the most unrealistic ways possible. They seemed to want to go above and beyond the typical white-people-in-a-horror-movie behavior, and even wildly unrealistic narratives have to have a small amount of reason in them to work.
That being said…
One more good thing about this movie before I get into the ending: Krampus’s opening scene was fantastic and hilarious. However, it was a bit of a struggle for me to get through the movie’s second half, and on top of that, nothing’s worse than an “It was all a dream” finale. They’re seriously trying to give us a sweet ending after the family was attacked by rabid candy cane-wielding gingerbread men? I would’ve been happier if that box Max received at the end had contained a human ear or something. Give me my scary Christmas flick or better yet, give me back my hour and a half.