Krampus: The Devil Returns – USA, 2016

‘Are you still on the naughty list?’

Krampus: The Devil Returns – aka Krampus 2: The Devil Returns and The Christmas Devil – is a 2016 supernatural horror film directed by Jason Hull (Krampus: The Christmas Devil; The Four; Chasing Darkness) from a screenplay co-written with A.J. Leslie. The movie stars Richard Goteri, R.A. Mihailoff and A.J. Leslie.

Plot:

Five years after the murder of his wife and disappearance of his daughter, former police officer Jeremy Duffin is brought back to help in the hunt for Krampus, a yuletide monster that punishes children that have been “naughty.”

As the monster becomes more erratic and unpredictable, Jeremy learns the truth about the disappearance of his daughter and the fate that has been bestowed upon him by an unlikely source…

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Review:

It’s only been over the last couple of years that Santa’s full-blown alter ego, Krampus, has made his way from the Germanic/Eastern European subliminal self into the publicly dark psyche of American horror films. This one is directed by Jason Hull, and stars A. J. Leslie, who also co-wrote the script with Hull, as Jeremy Duffin, an ex-cop on a mission to stop the beast that destroyed his life years before. Also in the cast are Malantha Blackthorne as leather-clad killing machine Natasha; Ben Berlin as a lethargic, top-heavy Krampus; and Paul Ferm portraying the poor man’s version of Billy Bob Thornton’s version of a trailer park Santa.

The film starts off with a couple of children, one rather doltish and nasty and the other merely an enabler, finding an abandoned house and vandalising it. After trampling Christmas decorations which, by all logic, shouldn’t be there considering the house is abandoned, the two kids break in and proceed to leave their own mark on the shabby not-so-sheik interior.

This brings on the attention of a shadowy figure who then sweeps them up. Immediately after this, another obtuse punk muscles his way through a very thin line of children in what, oddly enough, appears to be someone’s house; the children, and their overly cheerful parents, are lined up and eagerly awaiting to partake in the Holiday tradition of having a little personal tête-à-tête with Ferm’s straggly Honky-Tonk Santa. Why this isn’t being done in a department store or mall isn’t clarified and just comes off as odd.

Anyway, the elbowing lummox eventually disappears as well in a following scene, stuffed in a bag and dragged off to Krampus’s lair (that is, Santa’s tar paper, Texas Chainsaw Massacre shack) where he and other naughty children are whipped into unconsciousness. Enter Jeremy Duffin, a once proud, hard-edged cop who has spiralled into drunken hard times due to his wife being killed, and his daughter being kidnapped, by Krampus in the previous film. Of course, the local authorities can’t handle the chaos resulting from local pre-teen goons disappearing; apparently the community doesn’t know a good thing when it sees it.

The acting in the film is fairly sub-par for the most part. No one really delivers a satisfactory performance. Although Paul Ferm has a definite screen presence, it’s not a good one; he resembles more a flophouse drunk, red nose and all, blearily tolerating each scene until he can get to his next drink rather than Edmund Gwenn’s amiable and energetic Kris Kringle from Miracle on 34th Street.

But, then again, perhaps Hull was going for that shabby, washed out impression, trying to embellish the unease with a seedy queasiness, making Santa the flea trap brains and Krampus the dull brawn in this Yuletide serial killer rampage. If so, they succeeded, but still not well. A. J. Leslie does have the occasional solid acting moments, but is generally unconvincing as well; he, unlike Ferm, though, does have a screen presence that draws the eye to him in a positive way whenever he’s present. Unfortunately, this gets’ lost once he shaves himself clean, Travis Bickle-style, about mid-way through the film.

The script, as in most micro-budget horror movies, is a bit muddled and isn’t clarified any by sluggish direction and listless editing. There are a few twists thrown in, one rather surprising and distasteful, and a couple of almost adequate scenes of the police skulking through falling snow in search of their prey; but still, the final completed product is strictly small change and only for the Killer Christmas completist.

Ben Spurling, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“There is no convincing me that anyone involved behind the scenes put heart into making something “good,” or even “good enough.”  Performances are on par with an elementary school recital, except even less entertaining.  The Krampus creature looks like an emaciated Sweetums from The Muppets after being disfigured in a fire.  Nowhere is there a sincere sign of commitment.” Culture Crypt

“Sound editing is all over the place and scenes are cut clumsily together, not helped by a soundtrack of mangled Yuletide favourites played on a tinny synthesiser. This is basically a stinker of a movie only leavened by some lovely snowy Pasadena locations.” Dark Eyes of London

“The production design is inexistent. The editor misuses cross fades and hard cuts. The basic principles of filmmaking are never met. Most scenes are poorly lit and the framing is all wrong. This movie is a succession of “What the hell” moments and has virtually no redeeming qualities.” Tales of Terror

Krampus: The Devil Returns does a lot to try and improve upon the first film. While overall it doesn’t help all that much, it does make this pill easier to swallow. My main issue with the first film is that it didn’t show kids, such as kid Jeremy, actually doing bad things that would warrant Krampus’s wrath.” The Other View

“Brother, if anyone deserves to be on the Naughty List it’s Jason Hull. He actually manages to make a Christmas horror film that is barely Christmas and almost not at all horror the second time out. It seems like he realized that nobody would pay for the pathetic cops vs biker film that he wanted to make, so he stuffed in a few scenes of Santa and Krampus and called it Krampus 2.” Video Junkie

Main cast:

  • R.A. Mihailoff
  • Melantha Blackthorne
  • Tiffani Brooke Fest
  • Michael Mili
  • Jason Hull
  • Robbie Barnes
  • A.J. Leslie
  • Richard Goteri
  • Daniel James
  • Bill Kennedy
  • Paul Ferm
  • Darin Foltz

Read other reviews by Ben Spurling

Krampus on HORRORPEDIA

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