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