“Krampus” delivers mixed themes


“Krampus,” a Christmas horror film, misses the mark. The concept of the movie explores an intriguing, darker aspect of the pagan folklore behind Santa Claus. However, the film itself does not deliver in either its heartwarming or its scary scenes. Since festive films are meant to inspire genuine Christmas spirit and warm, fuzzy feelings, “Krampus” struggles to establish itself as either a holiday or horror film.

The opening score, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Bing Crosby, hints at the materialistically driven spirit of Christmas. In addition to eerie versions of Christmas classics, the soundtrack includes original songs with haunting tunes such as “Bells, Bones, and Chains.” The movie’s soundtrack is appropriate for the suspenseful and ominous mood that sets in after the arrival of Krampus, the evil counterpart of Saint Nicholas.

The story develops as Max (Emjay Anthony), a young boy who hopes for Christmas “as it used to be,” loses his Christmas spirit as the holiday approaches. His frustration stems from his dysfunctional family’s tendency to ignore its problems in order to make it through Christmas, which dampens his own deeply-rooted love for the holiday. When Max tears apart his wish list in a fit of anger, he unleashes the sinister spirit of Krampus.

The film portrays Krampus as a vengeful spirit preying on children who have given up hope on the holidays. Krampus kills off members of Max’s family with the help of evil elves and killer gingerbread minions, serving as a reminder to all to be grateful for each other.

The director, Michael Dougherty, succeeds in showing the frailty of family dynamics. Max’s father and mother, Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), are characters whose distinct flaws represent the faults within each family. Through their shared trauma, the family members learn to accept — or at least tolerate — each other’s defects and finally appreciate the holiday experience.

Initially, the idea of taking an old pagan myth and placing it in a modern backdrop seems interesting. However, the director fails to tell the story in a semi-realistic and effective way. Dougherty draws too many ideas from his own imagination and rarely references subtleties from the original myth of Krampus. In addition, the film focuses too much on the horror aspect and not enough on in-depth plot development. This holiday-horror hybrid film strives too hard to fulfill both categories and ultimately fails in pleasing fans of either genre. The ending is awkward and ambiguous, falling between a simultaneously sentimental and unsettling mood that echoes throughout the film.

By Angela Zhang, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of IMDb

The Breakdown

Plot Development
Musical Score
Character Development