After spending hundreds of years hidden away in the depths of Austro-Bavarian folklore, the Krampus is now a staple of holiday horror cinema. Last year, Michael Dougherty’s Krampus brought yuletide terror back to the masses and introduced unacquainted audiences to the mythology behind the European Christmas demon. To coincide with the release of that movie, other films featuring the Krampus creature followed, bringing seasonal slaughter in his wake. One of those films was Robert Conway’s Krampus: The Reckoning, a lacklustre effort with some poor CGI. Now here we are approaching Christmas once again and Conway is back with a brand-new motion picture dedicated to the anti-Claus for all of us to enjoy — Krampus Unleashed.
The story opens with a group of fortune hunters who, while searching for a lost treasure, unearth a cursed stone which holds the power to awaken something sinister. Guess what that something sinister is? After centuries of slumber, they awaken the Krampus and it’s thirsty for blood, and it doesn’t take too long before it’s being spilled.
Flash forward to the modern and a family arrive in Arizona to spend Christmas with the in-laws. The kids Tommy (Bryson Holl) and his older teen sister Fiona (Caroline Lassetter) don’t want to spend their holiday in the Southwest, and their parents Amber (Emily Lynne Aiken) and Will (Tim Sauer) aren’t too keen on the long drive. But when the rest of the family shows, they decide to cure their boredom by mining for some gold, only to uncover a certain stone that wields the power to summon an unexpected Christmas guest — and he’s not interested in the turkey!
Krampus Unleashed is a mixed bag, but we’ll start with the good. Thankfully, Conway has opted for a physical monster this time around and the creature suit and make-up looks fantastic. In a day and age where so many horror fans complain about CGI, many will be pleased to know that Krampus Unleashed is a monster movie which opts for practical FX. Secondly, there’s enough bloody kills to pad out the running time; no one is going into a film like this expecting anything other than a creature feature, and in that regard it’s perfectly serviceable. The moments between the carnage aren’t all that interesting, but there is enough monster action to ensure we don’t have to spend that much time with the characters.
That said, it isn’t without its fair share of problems. For a start, the acting is also dry for the most part, but the performances are no better or worse than those in most other low-budget horror fare. The characters are dull and the story is threadbare, but is guised somewhat by what is a competently made film with some excellent cinematography and entertaining carnage.
Additionally, the Arizona setting is a poor choice for a Christmas-themed horror film as much of it is spent in daylight with sun-soaked desert surroundings. Now I know this criticism sounds like nit-picking, but it doesn’t encapsulate the holiday spirit some might go in expecting — at least not in the traditional sense. Then again, on the other hand, some might see this element as an unexpected defiance of expectations, which can be a positive when trying to separate a film from others of its kind.
What we get with Krampus Unleashed is a film that is low on story, but serviceable with its splatter. In terms of low budget horror movies, there are far worse out there, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody who’s looking for the next great holiday horror, it’s definitely for a rental if you’re looking for a passable time killer.
Krampus Unleashed (2 / 5)