Studio: Uncork¡¯d Entertainment
Director: Robert Conway
Writer: Robert Conway, Owen Conway
Producer: Owen Conway, Joseph Mbah, Robert Conway, Justin Anderson
Stars: Monica Engesser, Amelia Haberman, James Ray, Kevin Tye, Sean G.P. Anderson, Owen Conway, Carrie Fee, Shawn Saavedra, Nathaniel Burns
A child psychologist works the strange case of an orphan who can summon Krampus to kill naughty people with fire.
¡°Krampus: The Reckoning¡± opens with young Rachel Stewart learning all about Krampus from grandma. Oh, hold on. The storyline has somewhere else to be all of a sudden.
Flash forward to a later date at another place with different people. Troubled orphan Zoe Weaver has bones to pick with her abusive foster parents. From under the bed Zoe pulls a sewing kit containing a homemade Krampus toy and some yarn. Demonstrating dexterous craftiness for an eight-year-old, Zoe recreates mean mom and dad as voodoo dolls and the Christmas devil is supernaturally summoned to torch their real selves to a quick crisp.
Reenter Rachel Stewart. Now a child psychologist, she partners with police pal Detective Miles O¡¯Connor to break through Zoe¡¯s zipped lips and uncover what really happened as burnt bodies begin piling up around town.
Zoe claims Krampus is merely punishing people for being bad. Rachel doesn¡¯t understand what the little girl is going on about. She has never heard of the anti-Santa Claus before.
Wait, what? The movie makes a point to start with Rachel¡¯s Austrian Xmas education, yet two decades later she no longer knows about Krampus?
A reason for the discrepancy is revealed later in as clunky a fashion as it is initially presented. Clunky describes the way every element of the story is introduced, from Rachel¡¯s adopted son she rarely interacts with to the ludicrously roundabout revenge plot keeping Krampus on his unnecessary killstreak.
An early moment in ¡°Krampus: The Reckoning¡± has a trailer trash woman watching a telenovela-type TV show intentionally written and acted to be terrible. What¡¯s unintentionally ironic is that this purposely awful scene is indistinguishable from the poor writing and drab acting in the rest of the movie.
¡°Krampus: The Reckoning¡± is to Christmas horror movies what Silly Putty is to Christmas toys, except no fun at all. It¡¯s a cheap, shapeless blob of colorless goop that can hold your attention for an instant, but is destined to be discarded in a junk drawer.
Energy is absent everywhere. Camera setups are stationary more often than not. Actors stand still on their marks or are already seated for exhaustingly gabby exposition.
This is a film whose head is not at all in the game of telling a fluid sight and sound story. The driving directive is to simply turn on the camera and record a script reading featuring first-timers unlikely to appear in another movie.
Actors with some experience don¡¯t do any better. James Ray as the lead detective speaks in a gravelly back-of-the-throat mumble sometimes difficult to decipher. Other performers at least enunciate clearly, though that¡¯s largely because they are just saying words and not actually acting.
The ultimate kick in the chestnuts is Krampus has next to nothing to do with the story¡¯s true theme and barely appears in the movie at all. Safe wager says this is probably because the creature is CGI and the production could only afford to render half a minute¡¯s worth of footage. Without keeping count, 30 seconds might be a generous guesstimate of how much screentime the title attraction actually has.
In the spirit of the season, I¡¯ll give the gift of a compliment to writer/director Robert Conway for making fire Krampus¡¯ murder modus operandi. Effects are mostly achieved through smoke and only a few flickers of flame. Nevertheless, putting charred corpses onscreen takes effort with a low budget, and isn¡¯t a lazy copout like resorting to simple slashing and fake blood might be.
As for everything else about the movie, there is so little left to say that I can¡¯t even push this review over the minimum word count. Might as well make room in that junk drawer instead.
Review Score: 15