30th Oct2018

‘Krampus: Origins’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Anna Harr, Maria Olsen, Amelia Haberman, Dustin Leighton, Katie Peabody, Luke Waxman, Linda Cushma, Shannyn Hall, Noah Clark, Helynn Castro, Ethan Drew | Written by Robert Conway | Directed by Joseph Mbah

KRAMPUS-ORIGINS-KEY-ART

Robert Conway completes(?) his holiday horror franchise with Krampus: Origins, the third film in Conway’s Krampus series which goes back to the first World War to tell the terrifying backstory of the yuletide slaughterer…

The first World War rages on when a group of American soldiers find a mysterious artifact that can summon the ancient evil of the Krampus. After the men are killed in action, the artifact is sent to the commanding officers widow who is a teacher at a small-town orphanage. The orphans accidentally summon the Krampus and the teacher, and her pupils are forced to battle this ancient evil.

When I first reviewed Krampus: The Reckoning back in 2015 I never thought that writer/director Robert Conway would go on to make these films a near-yearly occurence. But here we are, its 2018 and we’ve got ANOTHER film in the franchise that I thought was dead in the water after its first entry. Shows how much I know! Actually, it shows just how good the power of a name (in this case Krampus, as this series originally piggy-backed off the film of the same name) and the power of getting your film into supermarkets across the globe… The likes of Walmart in the US and Asda here at home have all carried these films and its clear their customers love a seasonal slasher. How else could these films keep going?

Here Robert Conway takes a back-seat to new franchise director Joseph Mbah, who makes his solo feature debut with this movie, having previously co-directed a feature and a whole heap of short films prior to this. Krampus: Origins also ups the ante in terms of its cast, adding genre stalwart Maria Olsen (Paranormal Activity 3, Starry Eyes, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus) and up-and-coming genre star Anna Harr (Strange Blood, Curse of Sleeping Beauty, Bethany) to the line-up; whilst at the same time bringing back cast members from the previous films in new roles – such as Amelia Haberman, who was central to the first film and plays a similarly important role here.

OK, so the filmmaking and acting have clearly improved over the previous 2 films but at what cost? The second film in the franchise was an over the top, cheesy but gore-filled horror movie that – I think – really played up the fantastical aspects of the Krampus legend to great effect. However this third film does the exact opposite… It replaces the horror and the fantasy with slow, laborious storytelling – so much so you have to question whether this was a Krampus movie in the first place, or if the demonic character been shoe-horned into a totally unrelated story. That’s it how it felt to me anyway. And when the Krampus-based “action” does come it’s far too late, over two-thirds of the way into the movie to be precise!

I say Krampus-based action because, despite my complaints with the bad CGI creation in the first film and the rubber-suited monster in the second film, THERE’S HARDLY ANY ACTUAL KRAMPUS VIOLENCE IN THIS FILM! The characters walk in on people with injuries, a whole heap of dead people, etc., but you never see them attacked! The villain of the piece does get a huge monologue though, so that makes up for this film, a HORROR film, not actually featuring any violence, murder or actual horror… Yeah… There’s that. However Krampus: Origins does actually does what it says on the tin and gives us the origin of the demonic anti-Santa. So its not decieving audiences that much. Honest. (Please note the sarcasm). Turns out Krampus is actual a demon who wanders the Earth kidnapping kids and taking them back home… to hell; and this version of Krampus also looks a lot like any nameless horn-helmeted Norse warrior from the Thor movies – the demons third “makeover” in as many films.

If you’re going to watch one of Robert Conway’s Krampus movies, may I suggest you stick with part two, Krampus: Unleashed? Despite its faults, at least its a whole lot more fun than this dull prequel! Krampus Origins comes to digital and DVD on November 6th from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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