Review – Krampus: The Christmas Devil

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Review – Krampus: The Christmas Devil
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Krampus: The Christmas Devil
Action, Horror, Thriller
Production Company: Snowdog Studios
Publisher ITN Distribution, Viva Films
November 3rd, 2015
Facebook

With a Krampus film due out just in time for the holidays, it comes as no surprise that there is an alternative hitting store shelves to play off the anticipating of said release. Enter Viva Films and ITN Distribution with the movie Krampus: The Christmas Devil, a low-budget mythical slasher crime drama originally created in 2013, but only now received a full-fledged direct-to-dvd release. It also suffers from a marketing tactic The Asylum have perfected, hoping to play off consumer ignorance with the aforementioned big budget set to hit theaters. But will those looking for a cheap late night thrill, or those (such as myself) who thought the future flick wasn’t a theatrical, but rather a home bound release, find this an entertaining venture, or is it far from even a last resort flick?

Krampus: The Christmas Devil‘s biggest problem is that it tries to be two different stories entwined as one. Things start off with a child named Jeremy Duffin, a victim of Krampus that managed to escape his icy fate. Roughly thirty years later, he is a police officer, following in his father’s footsteps. Things get complicated when a child molester he and the others in his squad locked up is released due to a technicality. The team head out looking for him, while Duffin is still on a quest to find and stop the man who tried to kill him as a child, and the reason he suspects is behind a number of missing children’s cases across the country.

While a noble venture in trying to weave the two stories together, it falters in how the progression is handled. Early on, it seems as though writer Jason Hull intended to make this more like a psychological thriller that plays off Duffy’s past to create a metaphorical Krampus terrorizing the time, possibly concluding that he, himself, is Krampus. It’s even all but confirmed with the mental breakdown that happens in the car when he is attacked by what appears to be Krampus himself. This, however, is not what we got. Instead, both story lines play out as separate entities that forcefully intrude upon each another. Much of the first half involves hints of the aforementioned rapist breaking out. There’s even a scene involving the three hunting him down, only to be trapped in his cave to find another kidnapped child, murder victims, as well as a topless woman who Krampus apparently keeps as a sex slave, or so it seems to be implied with how he uses magic to seduce her.

And it’s at that point where the film drops the other angle for quite a while. From here it comes down to Duffy trying to collect his sanity due to what he saw, as well as an impromptu bar fight of epic, poorly executed proportions, basically everything but work with his superior to form a mass hunt for the person responsible for the deaths of some fellow officers that are acknowledged to have been taken seriously given later news packages that air on the televisions in the bar. However, a home invasion shortly after reasserts the additional police angle, intruding on this Christmas horror themed titular antagonist and his WWE-like “bro” Saint Nick once more, concluding in a way that forces the two worlds together additional camera effects like layering to play up a disorienting view-point with what’s left of the roughly two hundred thousand budget.

That tactic is something that actually occurs quite a lot. As if trying to make up for the fact this has a moderately small budget, not to mention all shot in digital format, Krampus: The Christmas Devil utilizes a number of typical nineties shot-on-video tactics like haziness or blurring, slow motion, reduced frames per second, not to mention obvious black and white filters. Some of them, sadly, only makes it more obvious you’re watching a low-budget flick. Other than that and some computer graphics utilizes to show bullets firing when guns are used, much of the film relies on practical visual effects and various cuts to leave a lot of the violence to the imagination, both of which works well enough.

The other major element of this film that will leave you questioning things is why Krampus is targeting adults. Sure, there is a child or two here and there, but most of his targets and victims end up grown men and women. On top of that, Krampus is introduced as a murderer instead of someone who punishes children for being naughty. He’s also painted as a vengeful soul that is often manipulated by Saint Nick, who is, himself, a threatening man instead of the kind-hearted soul. When you look at it, this basically took two average killers and threw on the German folklore as a random skin to sell the already confusing script.

Honestly, had this gone in one direction or the other, there could have been a pretty good independent film. The pieces were there to be something great, but in the end wound up being only a marginally alright flick with a number of confusing moments and obligatory nudity geared to playing up the old slasher stereotype, as well as deter male viewers from questioning what’s going on. The acting here actually isn’t that bad, and you can tell the people involved were trying to create something good with limited funds that probably prohibited them from making the experience they intended. But, as it stands, Krampus: The Christmas Devil is a middle-of-the-road indie worth its value more in the unintentional humor of poor executions, audio loops, and dialogue not syncing up properly sometimes, than as a serious hybrid of mythological horror and crime drama.

Overall Score: 5/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.