VOD film review: Krampus: The Christmas Devil
Matthew Turner | On 19, Dec 2016
Director: Jason Hull
Cast: A.J. Leslie, Samantha Hoepfl, Bill Oberst Jr., Michael Mili, Jay Dobyns, Paul Ferm, Andrew Ferrick, Richard Goteri, Angelina Leigh, Darin Foltz
Watch Krampus: The Christmas Devil online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Not to be confused with 2015’s Krampus, this micro-budget horror indie from writer-director Jason Hull is so comprehensively inept that it’s a wonder anyone involved even managed to point the camera in the right direction. Consequently, it fails miserably to entertain on its own terms, although the sheer accumulation of awfulness comes close to winning you over.
A.J. Leslie (who looks like a poundshop Vin Diesel) plays police detective Jeremy Duffin, who’s haunted by a traumatic incident in his childhood, when he escaped death at the hands of presumed serial killer Krampus. Knowing that the killer preys on naughty children at Christmas like the figure of legend (he’s presented here as Santa’s evil brother), Jeremy sets out to capture Krampus with the aid of some police goons. However, he’s unprepared for what he finds.
In fact, Krampus turns out to be the least of Jeremy’s problems, as newly-freed child killer Brian Hatt (cult horror actor Bill Oberst Jr) targets his wife and child, in revenge for Jeremy having put him away for ten years. Meanwhile, Santa himself (Paul Ferm) also turns out to have something of a nasty streak.
The performances are uniformly terrible, giving the impression that the actors have never even seen a camera before, let alone the script. Consequently, the line-readings are all over the place, veering from completely flat to wildly exaggerated – the highlight in that regard comes from Richard Goteri’s police captain, who yells “I want that fuck!” and makes it sound like Jeremy owes him some intercourse, rather than how badly he wants to capture the killer.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing), the ineptitude doesn’t stop there. The script feels like it was written by someone with an attention deficit disorder, lurching violently from a cop-stalks-killer thriller to fantasy horror (Krampus stomps a cop to death with cloven feet, etc.) to what is presumably intended to be torture porn (off-screen screaming, Krampus has a topless woman chained up for some reason), before seemingly giving up on Krampus (and Santa) altogether, in favour of a completely different home invasion plot with the hilariously named Brian Hatt.
Hull’s direction is laughably poor throughout, but there are occasional moments of bad movie genius, most notably a glorious slow-motion bar fight in which nobody involved appears to know how to make slow-motion happen, so the actors all throw their punches r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y. The fact that the bar fight serves no discernible plot purpose is just the sloppy icing on an already disastrous cake.
In short, this is the sort of film that gives Christmas movies a bad name. Less ho ho ho, more no no no.
Krampus: The Christmas Devil is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.