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Mother Krampus

“Mother Krampus” stuffs an awful lot into its holiday horror stocking, but overindulgence — even at the holidays — can bring bad tidings.

Mother Krampus

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Oh boy.

I had worked out something slightly more clever to kick off this, my descent into seasonal horror madness. While “oh boy” is undeniably a difficult bar to clear, I had some thoughts, some musings, on the intersection of horror and Christmas, how these strange bedfellows can complement each other, and make no mistake, they most certainly can and often do.

Horror’s bitter coffee bite can brighten Christmas’s chocolate flavors. Opposites often attract in the best ways; just ask The Odd Couple, a property so popular and beloved it exists as four different properties I haven’t seen.

The point is that Christmas and horror have given us some truly great media. Krampus, Black Christmas, Gremlins… these are undeniable classics.

I could have said all of these things and meant them, but by the time I reached the end of Mother Krampus, a movie that really, truly exists, all I could say was, “oh boy.”

An auspicious start to my strange, festive little experiment.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Oh, I don’t know. Because the world is wide and weird and to be experienced in all its wide weirdness. Or something like that. Or nothing like that. I don’t know anymore because I watched Mother Krampus from beginning to end, and friends, I watched it sober. Please clap.

There is no reasonable or sane way to discuss this movie.

Attempting a direct approach? Well, that way lies madness, friends. But I want to give it as fair and even an assessment as I can manage, and the only possible way to do that is to break it down into subheadings (I see you, my blog writers!), so here’s what we’re going to do:

We are going to examine Mother Krampus — a movie that was filmed! With actors and lights and microphones and stuff, I swear! It’s on Tubi; you can watch it if you hate yourself — using these festive fucking categories: “The Nice,” “The Naughty,” “Who is it For?” and “Lump of Coal or Puppy?”. Let’s do this.

The Nice

Alright, so the acting isn’t bad. In some ways, this movie might have benefited from worse actors. Everyone here is competent at worst, and some are even pretty good. This fits the inexplicable Raymond Carver-esque domestic drama (more on that later) pretty well but is absolutely ill-suited to the high-camp horror aspects.

Speaking of….

There’s some sort of fun if entirely unoriginal, horror mythology in Mother Krampus. (Ironically, none of it has anything to do with Krampus.)

We’re dealing with a lot here, and if we can give Mother Krampus nothing else, it’s got damn good influences. It’s as if the filmmaker threw Nightmare on Elm Street, The Witch, Sleepy Hollow, and certain aspects of Krampus (again, oddly, none of those aspects were…Krampus) into a blender and hoped for the best.

The best did not happen.

I am putting this under “Nice,” although “Baffling” would be more accurate because this section deserves a bit more padding, and I’m working with a theme here. But one could not accuse the deeply strange, melodramatic adult drama of being bad, perse.

I alluded to Raymond Carver, and I’m comfortable standing by that comparison; Mother Krampus heavily features a plot about a woman whose husband-who appears to be about half her age but also fathered her 12-year-old daughter, so I guess they’re supposed to be contemporaries-leaving her for a younger woman, who he brings with to an incredibly awkward Christmas dinner.

There are long, talky stretches in this movie that have nothing to do with the titular Mother Krampus-who is, in fact, not a mother of a Krampus, at least as far as I could tell, so much as a forest witch.

The Naughty

Here’s where things get tricky. The horror aspects of the movie feel sort of shoe-horned in — as if the writer randomly remembered that he wasn’t making an adult prestige film, so he damn well better throw in some gory bits with Christmas lights and maybe an electric carver.

The mythology is all over the damn place and is, in fact, presented as a sort of Russian nesting doll.

There’s the Freddy Krueger-ish child killer who our townsfolk killed and buried in the woods, and then there’s the forest witch she summoned (I think? To be clear, I am not entirely sure what the hell happened in this movie because the backstory is wedged in so densely it’s nearly impossible to parse).

I think Mother Krampus believes it’s providing twists in the narratives, but mostly, it feels like it’s making shit up as it goes.

The rules are absolutely impossible to understand. Is the witchy character collecting children? Sure, but then she’s also killing random people who have nothing to do with her vendetta. She seems to be very invested in eating human flesh, but why? Presumably because it’s pretty gross, but that’s sort of the limit to the explanation.

And to be clear, this movie has a very nebulous understanding of human anatomy and where the guts go.

“Trigger Warning” seems too strong for what I’m about to say, so let’s call it an “ick warning”; there’s a sequence with an awful lot of vomit. I can handle maimings, guttings, and all the blood and viscera you can throw at me. But vomit’s a real problem for me, and I’m guessing for some folks out there as well. And boy, oh boy, they fit a lot into a five or so minute sequence.

Who is this for?

Mother Krampus

No one!

There’s way too much domestic drama for the horror fans, and it’s too nonsensical and gross for anyone looking for a serious Christmas bummer. I have rarely been more confused about a movie’s target audience.

Lump of Coal or Puppy?

Neither. This is like a pet rock or a subscription to Shudder, but in a language you can’t speak. It’s just confusing. Why did this happen? What did we do to deserve this? How is there a sequel to this? Will I watch it? God, I hope not, but I can’t make any promises.

Anyway, this is the beginning of a very stupid and futile project.

Up next: The Nutcracker Massacre, because I’m a glutton for punishment. And it can’t be worse than Mother Krampus, right?

Right?!

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 2

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