Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cranky like a Krampus: 12 Deaths of Christmas (2017)

12 Deaths of Christmas (United Kingdom, 2017) (AKA "Mother Krampus")
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Claire-Maria Fox, Faye Goodwin, Tony Manders

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) meets Darkness Falls (2003) set during the Christmas holiday. Do I really need to say more about this underwhelming lump of coal?

Well, if I do leave it at that, one might think this is a good movie, which it isn't. Not by a long shot. So if I need to (*sobs*), it starts with a exposition narration telling us about some gruesome child murders in 1921 at an English town called Belgrave, which happens again 71 years later. Superstitious folks blame these deaths on a witch named Frau Perchta, while the more capital punishment-ready townfolk pins the crime to a local pagan named Molly Fletcher who, after getting captured and whilst being hanged, cursed those responsible for her death a grislier end through the hands of Perchta.

Twenty-Five years later, we follow a young girl named Amy, whose parents are going through a nasty break-up after dad cheated on mum with a younger woman. Amy's mother struggles to keep things chipper, especially seeing it's near Christmas, but her efforts aren't fairing any better with her own father's drinking problems and the sudden (and unwelcome) appearance of one of grampa's old acquaintances.

As you would have it, grampa's friend is there to tell him that a new string of child disappearances starts to plague Belgrave and it seems that the victims are the kids of those who were hexed by Molly back at 1992. Making matters worse is that our culprit isn't satisfied with just snagging kids away in potato sacks (I'm not joking) but is also mutilating any adults that get in her way. This transitions from a couple of nasty onscreen slaughterings and offscreen kidnappings to Amy's very uneasy family Christmas vacation at Grampa's backwoods cabin when papa arrives with his new girlfriend. Perchta eventually shows up at the cabin that afternoon, thankfully cutting short one awkward so-and-so family drama, and all means of bloody dismemberment and twist reveals broke loose upon our hapless family. And a mistress.

Repackaged within the US as "Mother Krampus" to cash-in to the success of Krampus (2015), 12 Deaths of Christmas has a wee bit of a potential to be a good slasher movie seeing it is drawing inspiration from the Frau Perchta folklore, which says that the European witch (or pagan goddess, depending to whoever you address this to) would slit the bellies of misbehaved children open to remove their guts before stuffing the hole with straw and pebbles. (All the while leaving small silver coins in a shoe or pail owned by good lil' kinders. Fair contrast?) On a level, it does succeed on grabbing my attention with some decent kill scenes done in passable practical effects, but the story itself just felt cluttered to no end with its unbalanced cheese and shoddy writing, which is saying a lot considering I usually have no quarrels with that. I guess the movie's attempts to do in serious family drama to what's practically a low-budget I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) clone clashes horribly with its lack of better actors, proper pacing and a more solid direction, 12 Deaths of Christmas felt nothing special in the end and probably pushed itself back into low brow and awkward obscurity.

Add the matter that the last half of the movie hardly built any tension considering how much it stalled our characters (and us) to their own deaths by having them repeatedly survive whatever our villainess throws at them before finally biting the big one, 12 Deaths of Christmas (2017) just didn't cut it for me in the end. Microbudget movies are, again, no problem for me so long as they try to do something a tad more memorable than copy and paste plot points from better movies. (Apart from the aforementioned Elm Street and Last Summer, they also threw in some Candyman (1992) in there for some reason...) You could say I could love it for the gore, but I can't bring myself to be that shallow so, no. This is 12 Deaths I have no problem ignoring each festive season to pass after.

(Or was that 13 deaths? Lemme look at my bodycount real quick...)

1 girl mentioned died from injuries sustained from an attack
5 children mentioned dead from throat cuts
1 female disemboweled and had Christmas lights sewn into her gut
1 female stabbed in the back with a machete, hanged (flashback)
1 female stabbed on the back with a machete and a cookie cutter, disemboweled
1 female stabbed on the throat with a machete, slaughtered with an electric knife
1 female axed on the throat
1 male had his hear clawed out
1 female had her throat slashed through with an axe
Total: 13


  1. And I just bought Mother Krampus 2.

    1. Wasn't that just "Lady Krampus" retitled?

    2. Huh, it appears so.

      Guess that explains the unrelated-ness of the plots that Rob mentioned.

  2. I watched this one myself just a few days ago. I found the story quite interesting initially but it lost its way as it went on. The acting from some of the leads was quite impressive I thought for a low budget film but I didn't think the killer looked very good/scary and the deaths were too drawn out for my liking.

    It's funny that Lord Crayak mentions number two as I only found out about this sequel yesterday. As far as I can gather though it has no relation to this film at all other than the title so I think it looks to be one of those sequels in name only. The killer for example seems to be completely different to the one we see here.

    1. The drawn out deaths are the main reason this is rated so low. You cannot imagine the times I yelled "JUST DIE, WILL YA" at the TV screen when I watched this.

      Yeah, about the sequel. It's actually a movie called "Lady Krampus". I guess having two movies with female Christmas-themed psychos can be confusing for some so whoever released these films thought it'll be a great idea to make sequels out of one another.

      But they ain't fooling me...