Ho-ho-horror movie Krampus is not entirely unwatchable, despite amateurish direction, frenzied lensing and bog-level CGI work.
How’s that for a sleigh-bell-ringing endorsement? And I neglected to mention the cop-out ending.
So it’s not a shocker that Universal Pictures released this lump of seasonal coal directly into the wild Friday, without benefit of prior critical scrutiny.
What is surprising is how a potential Christmas giftie ended up on the remainders shelf.
The story about a European folklore creature punishing children who lack Yuletide spirit actually has some juice. The anti-Santa is comin’ to town!
The casting is good for a picture like this: Adam Scott and Toni Collette as the affluent homeowners, David Koechner and Allison Tolman as their trailer-trash relations, pulled together for a dysfunctional family Christmas with their kids and other kinfolk both naughty and nice.
Add in digital effects by Weta, who worked on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, and a soundtrack that includes Christmas chestnuts by Bing Crosby and Perry Como, and Krampus looks as if it began with loftier ambitions, possibly even franchise ones.
So how did director Michael Dougherty (Trick ’r Treat) and his screenwriting committee get away with such hackwork? The story falls off the rails almost from the get-go, as disillusioned young Max (Emjay Anthony) inadvertently summons the horned intruder Krampus and its evil disciples (think Gremlins ripoff).
The screen explodes with a riot of invaders that look like circus clowns, gingerbread men, Travelocity gnomes, Tim Burton grotesques and The Hobbit castoffs all decided to bring mayhem to one unlucky Midwestern American family. None of it is very scary, despite the horror category.
The fact we care at all about the outcome is a testament to the actors, and only the actors. But buried beneath the Christmas clutter is a much better movie.