Top underrated horror ‘gems’ – #2 Krampus

*Skip the premise if you already read my first post of the list*

Premise – Horror movies have always been divisive towards the audience. From the 80s, the cult franchises have created a trend particularly appreciated by the viewers. The Nightmare movies, the Halloween franchise as well as the Hellraiser flicks have marked the path that walked us, the audience, to an overwhelming cinema market filled with non-original movies, remake, reboots, sequels and prequels.

The formula is basically this: a director makes a successful movie with a little budget  and a big return at the box office. So that the Hollywood major labels exploit said success to make tons of sequels and prequels that hit the box office without telling anything new or original to the viewer (ehm ehm… Saw, Hostel… ehm ehm). Sometimes, even the first installment is disappointing by every means but the economical profit (ehm ehm… Paranormal Activity, Wrong Turn… ehm ehm).

All these franchises have something in common, i.e. poor writing, bland characters, jump scares, unoriginal villains, flawed cinematography. Why are they successful? Because the horror audience is now used to go to the movie expecting to have ‘a good time’ instead of being shocked and disturbed by an original, unsettling and brave script filled with good performances, relatable characters and true fear.

What are the consequences? Not  just new masterpieces such as It Follows and The Babadook, among the others, are considered as boring movies. Not just the milestones of horror cinema are now considered worthless. But also quite good movies that came out in the last 20-25 years have been underestimated by both audience and reviewers. Here a list for you, hoping you guys can have some fun and meditation on something a bit more original and ‘out there’. Enjoy.

NOTE: some movie franchises are actually worth watching, please do not dismiss the first Saw movie as well as the well-directed Insidious movies. Both from the talent of James Wan. The guy brings it right home.

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Krampus (2015) is an horror-comedy directed, written and produced by Michael Dougherty, who brought us the cult dark comedy Trick ‘r Treat that came out in 2007.

Unlike his previous work, Krampus has received an icy reception especially outside the United States. Many viewers seem to consider it as the umpteenth money-grabbing Christmas parody. Well, they are wrong.

Although not entirely original, Krampus is an entertaining, refreshing film, which relies on a good cast, well-crafted practical effects, amusing comedic moments and surprising mixture of fear and laughter.

The movie is based on the urban legend of the Krampus, an ‘anti-Santa Claus’ mythological creature that punishes those who rejected the Christmas spirit. Beyond that, in numerous scenes Michael Dougherty draws inspiration from Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984) but it does that respecting the fame of the 80s’ cult.

Furthermore, the acting in this movie stands on another level compared to your average Christmas parody – Adam Scott shines in a ‘positive’ role, Toni Collette is excellent (and undermined) as usual, David Koechner is simply hilarious. And – surprise here – the 74 years old Austrian actress Krista Stadler – who plays the wise and quirky grandma – is absolutely incredible in her first Hollywood movie appearance.

Nonetheless, the main strength of Krampus to me is represented by the utilization of practical effects, which is not just refreshing but also incredibly effective. In the modern cinema, where the CGI is used also to create human beings who more than often look like blank mannequins, Krampus is a breath of fresh air from this point of view. However, the CGI appears in one scene – where the director could not do differently – which I personally consider as the most hilarious part of the entire movie.

In the end, I cannot refuse to mention the ending. Without spoiling anything, it is worth saying that the grand finale extremely polarized the viewers between those who thought it was a good plot device and those who panned it as a childish twist. I personally believe too much importance has been given to the ending, which does not improve nor worsen the overall quality of Krampus.

krampuschristmans

Even though a couple of scenes bring the audience away from the general atmosphere created through good photography and spot-on score, all in all Krampus is a film worth watching. Do not expect anything ground-breaking though. As you can see, I did not talk about the plot since I consider it as a secondary element, which makes the movie just an entertaining, well-done, refreshing experience.

In conclusion, the second Dougherty’s horror-comedy is a good movie that is flying under the audience radar undeservedly, but at the same time we are not dealing with an hidden gem. Still, if you want to have good time watching something different from the usual crappy Christmas horror flick, definitely check out Krampus. Cheers and Merry Christmas to y’all.

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