'Krampus Origins' writer Robert Conway says it's hard to find 'an idea that won't get buried by too many similar titles'

Conway's forte isn't just plain horror. His signature style, though, is blending all the gory, bloody, and scary aspects into one tight-knit plot thus making for a compact horror.

'Krampus Origins' writer Robert Conway says it's hard to find 'an idea that won't get buried by too many similar titles'

Horror has accelerated to crazy, insane lengths in the new age of cinema. There is no one genre of horror now; there are psychological thrillers bridled with science fiction, and then there are slasher horrors with a tinge of supernatural. Bordering along the lines of a bit of everything is 2018's latest horror 'Krampus Origins' - a blast from the past about how the horrifying stories revolving around the infamous Christmas Devil came to be. 

Directed by Joseph Mbah, and starring Maria Olsen, Anna Harr, Amelia Haberman, the official synopsis of the film describes its story like this: "The first World War rages on when a group of American soldiers find a mysterious artifact that can summon the ancient evil of the Krampus. After the men are killed in action, the artifact is sent to the commanding officer's widow who is a teacher at a small-town orphanage. The orphans accidentally summon the Krampus and the teacher, and her pupils are forced to battle this ancient evil."

And behind all that action and drama unfolding as people come in touch with the truth about the evil force surrounding Christmas, is writer Robert Conway, who has now been associated with three films in total. Conway's forte isn't just plain horror though, as he was also the brains behind 'Exit to Hell,' - one of the bloodiest movies of its times. But at the same time, what does happen to be his signature style, is blending all the gory, bloody, and scary aspects into one tight-knit plot thus making for a compact horror.

Speaking to MEAWW, Conway laid down what makes, or breaks a horror film - the most important ingredient, the fine lines, and of course - the over usage of jump scares. For every horror enthusiast out there, here are some excerpts of Conway's conversation with us:

You've been associated with two other Krampus movies in the past. What has the journey with the Christmas devil been like?
It's been a lot of fun. Every film is very different so it's always a totally new adventure.

Tell us a little bit about the latest in the franchise, 'Krampus Origins'. Is it a connector for the rest of the films? What sub-genre of horror would you classify it as?
I would say that 'Krampus Origins' adds a bit more explanation to the lore than in our previous efforts which I thought was long overdue. I also wanted to make this more of a fantasy film than a straight up horror. Krampus is a magical monster, so writing a script that dealt more in spells and alchemy and wizardry seemed to fit well in the world of Krampus.

Robert Conway on the sets of 'Redemption.' Source: IMDb
Robert Conway on the sets of 'Redemption.' Source: IMDb

How did the idea for the Krampus franchise originate? And, especially for 'Krampus Origins' - what made you incorporate the world war soldiers and nuns plot for the movie?
The Krampus franchise started almost by accident, in that I just happened to hear of the existence of the Krampus myth and thought it would be a cool idea to make a film about a holiday-themed monster.

Setting it a hundred years in the past and opening in an exciting setting like a First World War battlefield was a way to tie in Krampus’ Germanic roots in a way that made sense. And, because I wanted this movie to be more kid-centric than the other films, I thought an orphanage would make for a great primary setting and hence the nuns.

Do you adapt to a go-to method when writing the stories for horror films? Tell us a little bit about how it all comes to be.
I just try and tell a story that as a fan I would want to see and put that to paper. I used to try to think about what was scary, but after nearly 40 years on this planet, it gets difficult to find any work of fiction frightening.

Considering your contribution to horror films, do you think gore is an essential part of the genre? Where do you usually draw the fine line? Or, how do you strike a balance between the two?
Gore is fine if used appropriately. In horror, we have a lot of room to get really bloody and sometimes, heavy gore fits the story. One of my early films was called 'Exit to Hell' and I came across a redband trailer for that the other day and honestly found it a bit shocking. Not saying I wouldn’t make such a bloody film today if I thought the script called for graphic content, but I guess it's really been a while since I went all out with the gore.

A scene from Krampus Origins. (2018)
A scene from Krampus Origins. (2018)

What, in your personal experience, is the most challenging aspect of the horror genre? How do you suggest overcoming it?
The hardest thing in horror is finding an idea that won't get buried by too many similar titles. This is hard because we are in an industry where a type of film is hot one day and everyone is rushing to pump out the same thing. What works best is to try and break away from the pack a little bit.

What is your personal favorite thing about the horror genre, in general? Are there any signature styles you've involved in the projects you've worked on?
With most of my horror films, I've tried to approach them much in the same way a kid prepares for Halloween. Just have fun with the macabre. Embrace the dark side for a moment and go with it.

Back to 'Krampus Origins' - are there any particularly horrifying twists fans can watch out for? How scary - in your opinion - is the film?
I think some of the scariest moments of the film appear off screen. There's a scene where our leads are locked in a room as Krampus basically massacres the rest of the orphanage. Anna Harr and Amelia Haberman were really great in this scene as was Shannyn Hall and Luke Waxman. Director Joseph Mbah did a wonderful job of getting the actors to sell this horrible event with only the expressions on their faces.

'Krampus Origins' poster. (Source: IMDb)
'Krampus Origins' poster. (Source: IMDb)

With so many horror films and shows resorting to jump scares - what's your take on the topic? Do you think these jumps are absolutely essential to uphold the horror quotient of a project?
It's hard for me to say because they don’t work on me. I've seen too many (made too many) films to not see them coming. I kind of hate that because the jump scare is the adrenalin rush that we want to experience with a good horror. Just really hard to gauge for me any more if I’m creating one or not.

Any other upcoming projects you're thrilled/excited about? Please, do let us know!
I’m very excited to talk about my new film that we start shooting in January called Eminence Hill. The film is a Western but I don’t want that to discourage horror fans because it's likely the bloodiest thing I've done since 'Exit to Hell'. So, keep your eyes open for that one!