‘Krampus’ is available for purchase on all VOD platforms as well as physical Blu-Ray/DVD. For the best viewing experience, be sure to purchase Scream Factory’s latest 4K UHD upgrade, Krampus: The Naughty Cut; the perfect gift for the Krampus fanatics in your lives.
In 2015, writer/director Michael Doughtery (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) released his Yuletide horror film ‘Krampus’ to the masses. Receiving mostly positive reviews upon its release, this tale became an instant modern holiday horror classic amongst fans and myself. Riding the success of his previous holiday horror film Trick R’ Treat, the violence and gore for Krampus is tamer but the fright and silliness from his previous entry is still very present here. Presenting awe-inspiring visuals, impeccable creature designs, an enjoyable cast of characters, and Doughtery’s signature dark humor, it’s surprising we’ve yet to receive a sequel. With the holidays fast approaching and the bitter chill of winter coursing through the air, what better time to revisit this Christmas masterpiece?
Retail Killed the Christmas Star….
While most children’s letters to Santa consist of the a-typical toys and the latest tech and fashion trends; our protagonist Max (Emjay Anthony) has a more selfless request to share a nostalgic Christmas with his family reminiscent of years past. Shortly after his Uncle Howard (David Koechner from ‘Anchorman‘), Aunt Linda (Allison Tolman), their infant Crissy (Sage Hunefeld) and remaining children Howard Jr. (Maverick Flack), sisters Jordan (Queenie Samuel) and Stevie (LoLo Owen) and Great Aunt Dorothy (late Conchata Ferrell remembered famously as Berta in CBS’ ‘Two and a Half Men‘) arrive after a long day’s travel, tensions soon ensue. Dorothy is constantly complaining on the quality of the food even though Max’s mother Sarah (lovingly portrayed by academy award nominee Toni Collette; ‘Hereditary‘ and ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’) had been slaving away all day in the kitchen prior to their arrival. Howard almost immediately begins showboating his superiority complex and toxic masculinity to Max’s father Tom (played by Adam Scott of ‘Parks and Recreation’ fame) from the moment he walks in the house. Additionally, Jordan and Stevie purposefully embarrass Max at dinner by reciting his private letter to Santa in front of everyone. This sparks an emotional scuffle amongst the kids, and in a fit of rage Max shreds his only wish and tosses the remaining bits of the torn letter out of his bedroom window. Unfortunately for Max and his family, these actions summon not jolly Saint Nicolas but rather, a more sinister shadow and counterpart to the big man dressed in red. In order for Max and his family to survive this unholy night of terror, it’s imperative they set aside their differences and come together, otherwise their souls will be dragged to hell, suffering eternal damnation.
Visually, ‘Krampus’ is beautifully shot as Doughtery is able to capture the chaotic nature that falls on Christmas, but also, the magic bestowed upon it. The production design is flawless as festive decorations fill the screen with their blinking-colored lights, Christmas music blares from radio speakers, and pristine mounds of glistening snow cover the streets. Doughtery also takes lengths to showcase the insanity of holiday shopping in the films chaotic title sequence. Max and his family are clad in winter clothing, showing their slight enthusiasm for the approaching holiday. In grandiose fashion, Krampus christens his arrival into town with an unnatural blizzard, plaguing them in a dreary winter wonderland. You feel the intensity of the cold as our characters struggle bundling for warmth.
Santa Claus ISN’T coming to town
Draped in large red and white robes akin to Saint Nicolas, large, pointed horns curling above his head, the clattering of his massive cloven black hooves booming on rooftops, his face adorned with a mockery of the children’s beloved holiday figure; Krampus has arrived. Time has certainly been kind to Krampus, as 7 years later the character design is still remarkable. Standing close to 7 feet tall, his presence is especially imposing due to his hulking size and rough exterior. For as colossal as Krampus is, it still surprises me just how agile his character is able to swiftly move about. His laugh echoes in twisted delight as his grotesque tongue whips about, echoing his unapologetic personality; for he is there to punish. Whenever on screen, he steals the show as his presence is awe-striking.
Thankfully, Krampus isn’t the only character with a fearsome appearance, as his evil elves and twisted animated toys receive ample care equivalent to their master. Drawing inspiration from pagan/folkloric background, these maniacal elves first appear disguised as snowmen mysteriously appearing in Max’s front yard Christmas Eve morning, inching closer to the house ever so slightly with each passing hour. Once their surprise attack springs into action, we see them fully cloaked in dark soot-stained furs with intricately detailed wooden masks and carrying makeshift tribal spears. Whereas Santa’s elves are merry helpers, Krampus’ are anything but, acting more as slaves. His “cheerful” toys are no exception. Consisting of ravaging teddy bears, ghastly noel angles, and buzzsaw wielding robots, each toy feels craftly designed, providing their own unique flare and deadly purpose. One toy that’s remained a favorite of mine in particular happens to be their unofficial mascot and Krampus’ own twisted transport; his hideously cute jack-in-the box. Masquerading first as an innocent child’s toy only to later reveal its gaping mouth and rows of gnashing teeth capable of swallowing multiple victims whole.
‘Krampus’ lasting success can also be attributed to the characters Doughtery brings with his script, as well as the brilliant performances provided by each actor. Krista Stadler is wonderful as Omi, Max’s softhearted grandmother who’s experienced this holiday demon in her past. Scott and Collette’s’ Tom and Sarah exemplify what nurturing parents should be; comforting Max during times of weakness, while acting as the families selflessly fierce protectors. Emjay, however, really shines in this movie with his portrayal of Max. He’s able to convey the emotional stresses we see Max struggles with throughout. At first, Max seems hopeful this will be different than his past few have been. As the night unfolds, that hope quickly fades and shifts to anger. Anger then transcends to fear then guilt for the curse he’s mistakenly brought upon his family up until the final act in which Max finally confronts his demon head-on, accepting responsibility with fearless fervor.
Checked Twice: The Naughty List
‘Krampus’ succeeds in many areas; however, it has its mild issues. For as much as I appreciate Doughtery’s dark humor, there are times where I feel it’s overused in this script taking away from the horror. In a scene paying homage to 1984’s ‘Gremlins‘, rather than fiendish green creatures, we instead see poorly animated CGI gingerbread men that are more of an annoying nuisance than actual threats. This is especially disappointing given the films primary use of practical effects. Koechner’s Uncle Howard and Ferrell’s Aunt Dorothy, though equally hilarious and provide a hand in protecting the family, ultimately feel as the film’s comedic reliefs to me. Max’s sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) feels as though she was only included to fill the role of disinterested snotty sister. Not to say actress Stefania’s performance is bad, it’s not, her character is simply under used which provides lack of development. Those expecting to unwrap a carnage candy cane for the holiday season may be disappointed due to the films more family-friendly PG-13 rating. With his use of meticulous camera placement and expertise with lighting and shadows, Doughtery trades in the gore for jump scares through tension building.
A Beloved Demon of Christmas Past
Throughout the years since its release, ‘Krampus’ has been in my yearly Christmas film rotation for obvious reasons; relatable characters, time lasting practical effects, enthralling cinematography and an impactful surprise twist. At first glance, it may appear as if Doughtery has a disdain for Christmas but, with each revisit, it’s made clearer the respect he has for the holiday. Though a fun chaotic sleigh ride filled with horrific creatures, Krampus is a story told with love reminding its audience the true spirit of Christmas is not the lavish gifts but showing our loved ones the same care and cherishment. Doughtery further establishes his mastery of comedic horror with ‘Krampus‘, providing plenty of sacks of laughs and scary presents worthy of being a yearly tradition for any family.
Be sure to check HauntedMTL all month long for more holiday horror related content, including our ’12 Nightmares of Christmas’. 12 spine-tingling holiday themed short horror stories written by us, including yours truly, dropping every day starting December 12th, leading to Christmas day. (4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Consecration, a Film Review
Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook.
Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook. This R-Rated film includes Jena Malone, Danny Huston, and Janet Suzman as its starring cast. The film is currently available on AMC+ and Shudder.
After her brother dies, Grace (Jena Malone) goes to Scotland to investigate the circumstances. At every step of the way, Mount Saviour Convent seems to interfere with her investigation. Father Romero (Danny Huston) seems eager to help her, even if Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) resists her, but a strange fear seems to direct their actions. Worse yet, Grace endures visions of the past, present, and future.
What I Liked
A surprise performance steals the movie for me, that being Eilidh Fisher’s Meg. This nun-in-training remains consistently inconsistent, forever making me unsure of what to expect. With uncertainty and mystery at the heart of the film, Meg expresses that instability by keeping Grace and the viewer on edge.
Mother Superior and Father Romero have perfect friction with each other. Both manage the supernatural situation in their own way, acting as enemies and supporters toward Grace as needed. This friction also adds to the uncertainty that surrounds Grace’s investigation.
The mystery itself surprises me, though there is barely enough to add the context one needs for this mystery. However, it still earns credit for creativity and deception. Most twists and reveals become apparent and often underwhelm me, but Consecration deserves credit for catching me off guard.
Consecration showcases some alluring visuals, CGI not included. The setting and designs really add to the movies. At times, these visuals purposely contrast their environment as the narrative requires. Usually, it complements the central vision. The film gives off a pleasant aesthetic throughout its runtime–barring the CGI.
As a horror, Consecration has haunting moments. The mystery remains the central selling point. However, it leaves the viewer in constant uncertainty that helps the horror thrive.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Self-harm and suicide reoccur throughout the film, across several scenes and characters. Aside from ensuring the audience remains uncertain of events, there are no larger discussions or much focus on the issue.
Child abuse defines the backstory of certain characters. Unlike the point mentioned above, this earns more of a narrative focus. However, it’s still not exactly the point of the mystery. Don’t expect the film to explore this with sensitivity or depth. If these seem like dealbreakers, Consecration might be a skip.
What I Dislike
I briefly touched on a CGI problem, which hinders the otherwise interesting and alluring practical visuals. There are no ways to understate how distractingly bad one scene’s CGI is and how it upsets that quality. This scene, no spoilers, happens to be the most open use of CGI. There are other CGI moments, but none distract or hinder like that first scene.
The monster reveal underwhelms in a specific way. The twist perfectly aligns and sets up the foundation for this reveal to make the monster work. However, several reshoots add context to prior scenes to show this “demon” in action, and it somewhat upsets the effectiveness of those scenes.
Thoren Ferguson’s DCI Harris shows up sporadically throughout the film. He acts as the force of law, often hostile but completely underutilized. I suspect DCI Harris had a larger role, but somehow this plot was reduced. I assume this because he plays an important scene at the end that doesn’t seem earned. This isn’t to undermine Ferguson’s performance, as he does everything he can with what he’s given.
Consecration hooked me in and kept me engaged throughout its runtime. While the horror is middling, it has merit. The mystery remains the strength of the film, though it’s somewhat underdeveloped. If your mystery films tend to keep you in suspense through shifty characters and secret religious orders are your thing, Consecration might evoke your interest.
(3 / 5)
Movies n TV
You Reap What You Woe
Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.
First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood.
Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured.
While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there.
Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday.
Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why.
While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting.
Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem.
The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.
Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place.
I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around.
This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.
But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there.
Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode.
(4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Solace, a Film Review
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.
As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.
What I Like
This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.
As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.
Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.
Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.
A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.
Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.
What I Dislike
There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.
Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.
This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.
Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.
For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. (2 / 5)