Written and Directed by Michael Dougherty
December 4, 2015
When his dysfunctional family ruins his Christmas spirit, a young boy accidentally summons the dark Christmas spirit of Krampus to his home.
The vibe of the film reminds me of Silent Night, Deadly Night. The plots are different, but I do feel a connection between the two. I cannot quite put my finger on it though. The only real similarity is that people are being picked off one by one on Christmas.
The cast is a solid cast with the likes of Emjay Anthony as the young Max whose crushed Christmas spirit draws the attention of Krampus, Adam Scott as his father Tom, Toni Collette as his mother Sarah, David Koechner as his redneck Uncle Howard, Allison Tolman as his Aunt Linda, and the late Conchata Ferrell as Linda’s Aunt Dorothy. But a solid cast does not necessarily make for good characters.
Their parts are pretty much what you would expect. There are no surprising casting decisions. There are no twists really on the characters. They all do pretty much as you would expect them to do. They were a little bland and I failed to care much what happened to them. I understand characters in horror films are essentially disposable, but you should care HOW they get disposed of. Aunt Dorothy being the exception, but Conchata Ferrell was playing Dorothy as cantankerous which is what she was so very good at.
This film is a horror comedy. It turns traditional things like gingerbread men into murderous creatures as well as turning Jack in the boxes into human devouring monsters. The monsters were more entertaining than the people mostly.
The family is a terrible bunch of people. They are the type that make holidays not worth celebrating. And I understand why Krampus would target them but there is no indication of a similar familial tone in the rest of the neighborhood. No pre-attack scenes dropped a hint that the whole neighborhood are a bunch of shitty people. The closest we get is the opening scene at the department store with everyone surging in. If that is enough of an indictment to summon the anti-Santa Claus, then most of us are screwed.
The film feels like it is definitely trying to go for dark humor, but it falls a little short. The dark humor in the film does not bring a smile to your face. Rather it just makes you go “That’s weird.” Joe Dante in his classic Gremlins got dark Christmas humor right. When it comes to comedy in horror, you know you should not find it entertaining even though you do. They do not quite achieve that here.
The film works best when the characters are scrambling for their lives. After all you watch a movie like this for the kills and not the scenes that all those present are terrible and mostly incapable of change and thus death is deserved because they will continue to ruin Christmas and lives for as long as they live. The fights are kinetic and entertaining as things like gingerbread men or Christmas angels attack.
There is supposedly a Krampus 2 out there, but truth be told I am not sure if it is connected to this film or not. The synopses that I find on it are vague enough that it could be connected to this movie or connected to a completely different film. If anyone who reads this can tell me if there is a sequel even if it is a direct to video one, I would love to know about it.
Despite uninteresting central characters and not enough monsters this film still manages to entertain a little. Perhaps it is the attention to creature design. Perhaps it is given a boost by the presentation of the story told by Omi (Krista Stadler). But I personally think it is the perversion of Christmas symbolism for horror purposes. You become curious as to what else they can come up with. That alone definitely makes it worth a view.
Is Krampus great or even just good Christmas horror? No but then again, I do not think there is such a thing in either case. It is an entertaining schlockfest that while not great is a guilty pleasure. I suggest you watch this horror Christmas film.