Thirty-years ago, little Jeremy Duffin barely escaped the clutches of the Krampus, the horned companion of Santa Claus who punishes naughty children the coldest weeks before Christmas. Now as a grown man and an officer of the law, Duffin, still haunted by memory of his own abduction, obsesses over the similar current child snatching occurrences and, on the direction of his captain, constructs a three man team to hunt down the child predator. Confronting the Krampus doesn’t go as expected as bullets fly harmlessly through the mystical creature, resulting in Jeremy becoming a brief prisoner and his team facing a more fatal outcome. Jeremy escapes and makes his way back home where Krampus homes in on, seeking to punish Jeremy’s only daughter Heather, but one of Jeremy’s prior arrested offenders was released from jail and also has vengeful plans for Jeremy and his family. A trigger-happy obsessed cop, a vengeance seeking convict, and a child punishing anthropomorphic becomes a superbly wrapped deadly and wild gift on Christmas Eve.
On the verge of Michael Doughtry’s “Krampus” being released in theaters, the UK’s High Fliers Films distributes to home DVD the older, more experimental black sheep brother “Krampus: The Christmas Devil.” I say older because this Krampus Christmas horror film, written and directed by Jason Hull, was released over two years ago. Now with all the interest in Doughtry’s bigger, star-studded production being released this holiday season, the Snowdog Studio production filmed in Eerie, Pennsylvania is finally receiving a home DVD release in the United Kingdom and was just released here in the States only a month ago as well. Now while “Krampus: The Christmas Devil” will be exposed to the world, I fear that Doughtry’s “Krampus” will completely overshadow this microbudget film and, in all honesty, will rightfully do so due to the feeble and disjointed plot.
The Jason Hull film’s swiss cheese story is missing many pieces to this Christmas tale puzzle. The begiining voiceover description of the Krampus backstory is great for those who know nothing of the myth, but in the duration, the creature travels to a particular part of the North Western side of Pennsylvania to solely strike the top ten misbehaved children in one year, 25 days before Christmas. Krampus, like his brother Saint Nicholas, travels the world in those hours to various lands to punish all the naughty listed children. The scope of Hull’s Krampus was written too narrowly, missing to portray Krampus as on a grander wickedness. Another plot hole is with Jeremy’s daughter Heather. Santa specifically requests Heather Duffin to Krampus by pointing out that she’s truly a terrible child, even worse than a child who tortures and murders animals. The reason why Heather is a horrible brat isn’t explained and is rather ignored. Heather seems like a sweet and smart girl even when she knifes a man who attempts to rape her. Heather’s wide open story plunges into a pit of wonder.
Bill Oberst Jr. is one of the big names attached to this project and his part is rather slim, playing the role of Brian Hatt, the released child rapist looking to strike a vengeful blow upon the Duffin family. Oberst, hands down, raises the value of “The Christmas Devil” tenfold by being a wisecracking villain with a submachine gun and showing no mercy. If Oberst was ever awarded a role in a Batman movie, he would be a fascinating, if not terrific, Joker. Just sayin’. Finding more the good in “The Christmas Devil” has yet to be seen. Aside from Bill Oberst Jr.’s superb wayward performance, only an extended topless scene of Model Mayhem model Angelina Leigh as Krampus’s cave-chained Pet slowly discharges any kind of titillating and riveting on screen arousal.
The production value is unmistakably low level and this reviewer wasn’t expecting much when considering sets and post-production quality, but Hull should have spent film funds on skilled talent to the likes of Oberst or to the opposite likes of novice actor Paul Ferm, who plays the part of a biker-salty Saint Nick with an on/off personality switch. Lead actor A.J. Leslie as Jeremy Duffin frustratingly shows no range and aimlessly makes his way through Duffin’s most conflicting and life-threatening moments. Even Duffin’s bar fight with costar Darin Foltz and his two cronies conveyed no raw emotion needed to sell the action and, speaking of the same bar fight, the staged event looked awfully fake all around.
The High Fliers Films and ITN distributed Krampus Christmas horror film is 82 minutes of discombobulated mess. The story crawls slowly across to coherency, lightly candy coated with moments of acting talent and gratuitous nudity. Surely to be blown out of the water by the bigger and badder PG-13 “Krampus” film, “The Christmas Devil” can be considered to be a low end starting point for the anti-jolly myth of Santa Claus, helping those to jump start in learning all about the horned devil-like character and his brat-napping ways. I’m unable to review the audio and video quality and bonus material of the film as I’m sent a DVD-R copy and doesn’t truly reflect through a burned copy. “Krampus” The Christmas Devil” comes to DVD and Blu-ray in the UK courtesy of High Fliers Films.