Krampus the Return Poster

Krampus: The Return (2022) Review

Krampus: The Return opens with a voiceover by somebody trying, and failing rather badly, to sound ominous and foreboding as they tell us about a war between thousands of Krampus and the inhabitants of Germany’s Black Forest. Four hundred years later the truce that ended the conflict somehow results in the death of Harold (Osian Dixon, Dinosaur Hotel 2, Curse of Humpty Dumpty 2) a mentally challenged young man who lives in England, not Germany.

One of the last things he did before his untimely death was to call his sister Lisa (Natasha Rose Mills, The Heiress, No Filter) who blew him off. Now she feels guilty over what she’s told was a suicide. So along with her boyfriend Ross (Dan Robins, Amityville Scarecrow 2, Conjuring the Genie 2) and friends Paula (Charlie Esquér, Shockwaves, Dragon Fury 2), Nikki (Amber Doig-Thorne, Demons at Dawn, Heropanti 2) and Jane (Irina Gubacheva) she sets out to the family estate to make funeral arrangements.

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If this sounds all too familiar, there’s a good reason for it. Writer Ben Daly (Toothfairy: Queen of Pain, Toothfairy 5) and director David Gregory (Curse of Bloody Mary, Vampire Flies) have taken one of producer Scott Jeffrey’s (Nutcracker Massacre, Firenado) basic templates and sent the film’s characters off to an isolated estate to be killed off. I should note here that despite Jeffrey’s involvement and the film’s title, Krampus: The Return is a stand-alone film, not a sequel to Mother Krampus.

Also following the usual formula, there’s plenty of time between the opening kill and anything else happening. In this case, the death of a hooker and her client, who are obviously just in the film to pump up the body count. Not that she’s the only ho in the film, as in practically the next scene, Nikki is putting the moves on a very receptive Ross.

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Krampus: The Return is actually set up very oddly, the creature has issues with Lisa’s family but apart from a quick appearance in a graveyard it leaves her alone for most of the film. It even finds time to kill some random local who stumbles over the dead hooker. Meanwhile, our leads are just gabbing away and indulging in soap opera antics as though they’re in a completely different film.

The potential was there for Krampus: The Return to have been an acceptable bit of holiday horror. This is one of the few films I’ve seen where Krampus can speak, but he doesn’t say anything of any importance. Even if he did, by the time he finally gets around to going after someone besides random locals, I was pretty much beyond caring. It’s only in the last fifteen or twenty minutes that it finds its way to the estate and what happens after that is, for the most part, predictable and weakly staged.

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On the plus side for once Krampus isn’t CGI and is played by Stephen Staley (Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Hotel). It’s a very obvious rubber suit, which makes the fact that they keep showing it in broad daylight a strange decision to make. Sadly that’s about all the effects we get as the film tends to fade to black before the kills leaving us with maybe a bit of blood as it fades and then some sound effects.

Once again Scott Jeffrey had the chance to produce a good, or at least good enough, film and lets it slip away through cheapness and indifference. The film’s synopsis even refers to Krampus as “the infamous Christman demon”, they didn’t even care enough to correct the glaring typo. By this point, I should know better than to bother, but with his films making up such a large percentage of genre releases, I really don’t have a choice but to cover them and hope for the best. You on the other hand don’t have to subject yourself to them.

ITN has released Krampus: The Return to Digital platforms, including Tubi.

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