Alpine legend has it that, while Father Christmas comes around every year to give presents and joy to all the good children, his dark partner Krampus comes around at the same time to bring painful retribution to the bad kids. Well, this year everyone must have been very bad indeed, because we’re all getting those visits. There’s the Krampus’ segment in A Christmas Horror Story, there’s Universal’s forthcoming Krampus, there’s the already-released Krampus: The Christmas Devil, and soon we’ll have The Krampus, Happy Krampus!, Krampus: The Devil Returns, and the redundantly-titled Krampus: Beware the Krampus, not to mention a slew of shorts and, oh yeah, this entry, Robert Conway’s Krampus: The Reckoning.
Conway delivered a solid little alien-invasion/found-footage piece earlier this year with The Encounter, and is experienced at putting out solid, well-made, cheap-but-charming little genre pieces. Here the tradition is mostly maintained, as Krampus: The Reckoning is attractively shot and solidly staged, with occasional little flares of creativity. The acting is amateurish at times but impresses more often than it disappoints, especially in its two main characters: a lonely and occasionally creepy young orphan (Amelia Haberman), and the child psychologist trying to determine just what the Hell is up with her (Monica Engesser). You might find, however, that you’re not that taken with the slow, character-driven plot that unfolds, and with the liberties taken with the Krampus legend.
It’s my understanding that Krampus was a wild, horny demon until he was beaten and chained by Saint Nick in an allegory of Christ’s harrowing of Hell, and thenceforth put into service as a righteous avenger, but I might be completely off-base there; certainly Krampus: The Reckoning says I am because here, there ain’t no Santy Claus, only a young girl with a magical Krampus doll she lets loose on those who upset her. Her targets include neglectful foster parents and pædophile doctors, categories which, strictly speaking, are not bad children but bad adults. Krampus isn’t even given his traditional hairy, long-tongued appearance either; rather, he’s a CG creation who looks pretty much like a lazily rendered depiction of Satan himself. Not that he gets over a minute of screentime total: I couldn’t quit shake the feeling that, like a Hellraiser or Die Hard sequel, this began life as an unrelated project and found Krampus crammed in a cash-in on his newfound Hollywood popularity. He really doesn’t affect the plot at all, which is all about the creepy girl and her secret past history. It isn’t badly done as a supernatural mystery chiller, but if you’re expecting a nice bit of Christmassy horror nonsense, don’t crack open the nog.
Will you be checking Krampus: The Reckoning out? Let us know in the comment box below!