Krampus (2015)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) Blending Christmas themes with horror is not exactly an innovation … but it’s still rare enough to be noteworthy. In Krampus, a holiday comedy is slowly submerged in darkness as Santa’s less-savoury counterpart comes to teach an ungrateful family some harsh lessons. Written and directed by Michael Dougherty (whose decent Trick ’r Treat remains a bit of a cult favourite), Krampus is at its best when it transforms Christmas iconography into horror. It does have a few effective moments, especially as the family gradually sees itself isolated and under siege as the rest of the world disappears and their house won’t protect them. Still, for all of its B-movie sadistic intentions, Krampus doesn’t quite work as well as it should. Part of it has to do with lack of focus: all a multiplicity of horrors rain down on the characters, it’s hard to see how they all fit together—and they don’t. Part of it also has to do with the divided loyalties that the audience has for the characters: Once most of them are set up as being unlikable, it’s hard to muster up any interest in seeing them survive. By the time the ending rewinds, the film ends up closer to a shrug than to lasting dread: for all of its holiday nastiness, Krampus ends up being more restrained and unremarkable than should have been.

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