Krampus Origins (2018)
Director: Joseph Mbah
Starring: Maria Olsen, Anna Harr, Katie Peabody.
It’s that time of year again when Halloween has just ended but the Christmas holidays are around the corner: Krampus season! Director Joseph Mbah has a witchy good time playing with the Krampus lore. Yet slow pacing and technical problems, like muffled sound or flat camera techniques, keep this from being the taut thriller it wants to become.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The film opens toward the end of World War I as the allies push against German forces. As the Allied Forces attack, the German officer fails to take command – instead, an unholy book draws all his attention until it’s too late and his men are dead. A well-meaning soldier confiscates the book, only to be killed that night in a German raid.
Flash forward three weeks later to his young wife Josephine, played by Katie Peabody, arriving in Arizona Territory to teach at a home for wayward children. There is an interesting balance between the drunken Father Timothy (Michael Harrelson), the Prioress and defacto leader Sister Rafus (Marla Olsen), well-meaning Jimmy (Miloh England), and the mysterious practitioner of witchcraft and the old ways Lena (Shannyn Hall). The children have the usual quarrels, though young Adelia (Anna Harr) shows aptitude for magic despite the displeasure of the Sisters.
The film has promise. A particularly poignant scene when Josephine gets news of her husband’s death. There’s also a fun moment with the Father, Jimmy, and Josephine. The tension between Sister Rafus and Lena is expected, but it doesn’t prepare us for the inevitable confrontation with Krampus. The problems, aside from the technical, are in the lack of logic behind the Krampus origin and how it connects to a mysterious young boy named Nicholas (Chandler Mantione). There aren’t many scares, and the tension doesn’t build evenly. It’s very slow between the opening and the final third of the film. Is it worth the watch? Unless you’re a Krampus connoisseur or just enjoy boarding school-style drama, I’d pass on this one.
Reviewed by Kelley M. Frank