After losing his faith in Christmas and tearing apart his letter to Santa, a young boy (Emjay Anthony) accidentally summons the malevolent holiday demon Krampus. The following day, his family awaken to find that a massive blizzard has knocked out the power in their house, and they are soon forced to fight for survival as the fearsome folklore creature and his minions proceed to wreak havoc on the dysfunctional clan. Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner co-star in this hybrid of black comedy and horror from director Michael Dougherty (Trick 'r Treat).~Daniel Gelb
The naughty ones: meet the cast
Feature commentary with filmmakers
Krampus comes alive!
Krampus and his minions
Inside the snowglobe: production design
Behind the scenes at WETA workshop: Krampus
Conchata FerrellAunt Dorothy
Curtis VowellDHL Man
Ivy GeorgePerchta the Cherub
Douglas PipesComposer (Music Score)
Peter AftermanMusical Direction/Supervision
Jules CookProduction Designer
Alistair KaySupervising Art Director
Marko AnttonenSet Designer
Bob BuckCostume Designer
Karen TriestSound/Sound Designer
Cathy Sandrich GelfondCasting
John MorrisSound Effects Editor
Mark PatersonRe-Recording Mixer
Tony LambertiRe-Recording Mixer
Creature Film,Holiday Film
Year of Release
Dolby Digital w/ sub-woofer channel, stereo, Digital Theater Systems (akin to 5.1)
There's a sort of set of horror films I try desperately to avoid. There are a few types of horror movies I avoid: the truly bad kind (that people only like ironically, or with post-modern post-irony: "I find the failure born of hubris endearing"), the bad kind some think are okay because the effects are at or near believable (even if everything else about the movie is awful), the kind that most horror fans I run into tend to like (like the former, but about gore/murder setpieces), and the most cynical kind (that often fits with any of the previous groups) that seem to just by soulless exercises in creating setpieces, cheap scares, and/or cult-followings. That inauthenticity is the worst, especially for its periodic successes. I long thought--perhaps muddling the idea with another movie or such-like--this was somewhere in the middle there: a decent budget, but somewhere along the spectrum from "truly bad" to "enjoyed because ideas/effects, with no regard for anything around it". Perhaps something like a SyFy original movie, which often seems to brush up against a fictional version of "ripped from the headlines" ("What's trending in horror?"). I heard a few solid reviews, then found Adam Scott was one of the leads and thought, "Eh, I could use some greater variety in my 'off' Christmas movies".
Max (Emjay Anthony) is a young boy set to spend another family Christmas with his mother Sarah (Toni Collette), father Tom (Scott), older sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), aunt Linda (Allison Tolman), grandma "Omi" (Krista Stadler), uncle Howard (David Koechner), and cousins (Howie, Jr. -- Maverick Flack, Jordan -- Queenie Samuel, and Stevie -- Lolo Owen). A Christmas play gone wrong, friction between his parents, his critical sister, and his bullying cousins cause Max to finally break down and reject his love of Santa Claus and Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, this sets Krampus loose on the family: a malevolent spirit that comes out something like a twisted, darkened mirror of Santa Claus. Through intense disbelief--justifiable, under the circumstances--the family slowly realizes they are under threat from something truly malicious.
Director and co-writer (with Todd Casey and Zach Shields) Michael Dougherty has tried to revive the spirit of bigger budget horror from the 1980s (Gremlins, Poltergeist, etc), their mentality, effects (the practical kind), and senses of humour. As I often appreciate, this turns out to be not only generally successful, but also turned just-modern-enough to hopefully satisfy the kinds of people who refuse to accept a movie that's neatly linear and "predictable". The threat is made quite real--something the aforementioned movies were successful at achieving, but tending toward unstated shields around a group of core characters--without drifting into utter nihilism, that I also find rather frustrating. WETA Workshop, enlisted for effects, put in great work, that not only helps to easily suspend disbelief, but is creative, interesting, and as high quality was one expects from that crew. The envisioning of this iteration of the Krampus legend is so focused on Krampus as anti-Santa that it can't resist almost all the elements being nudged at, but especially choosing to make the assistants of Krampus not only (rather dark) elves, but also sentient, aggressive, bloodthirsty toys, like a jack-in-the-box, or teddy bear, hideous and monstrous in design.
The quality of actors (Scott, Collette, and Anthony, especially) alongside those effects is married to a script that manages to nicely align the triangle between melodramatic conflict, realism, and exaggeration for humour's sake. The in-laws are the greatest tug on exaggeration (a given, I'd almost think due to Koechner), but even on their own will keep things in the right range. This is the most successful element of reviving 80's-style films I can think of, trapped just past the center of the tilt from decreasingly stagey (or "freed-from-the-stage") kinds of characters to "meticulous realism". We can laugh at the absurdities of a character because they're so clearly from a reasonable range of archetypes, tweaked just enough to give us that sense of depth and "don't judge a book" kinds of tentative movement the 80's showed so much of, as a greater trend in writing toward shaded character rolled over things. The setting and design choices are quite good as well, capturing everything the film wants to, from nods to and proof of issues characters bring up, to hitting the mark on the tone and atmosphere intended--from a relatively wealthy home at a modern Christmas, to a hellish tundra devoid of other life, near-apocalyptic from both violent-intruder and climate-wasteland perspectives, holing up not just for safety from the evil forces afoot, but also the bitter, freezing cold enhanced by their presence.
Throw in some good character moments and development, some brave choices that feel neither rote nor "anti-rote", and a good sense of humour, and this may well start to enter my annual end-of-year rotation.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rating 5 out of 5 stars with 1 review
Beware of krampus
Owned for 6 months when reviewed.
Funny, spooky and entertaining xmas horror flick. A must for any Xmas horror fan
Absolutely loved this film, much like the same crew's work on another holiday-themed horror film (with tongue planted firmly in cheek,) Trick R Treat.
If you've seen the aforementioned Trick R Treat, you know what to expect tonaly- there's genuine creepiness, and for each instance, there's also some laughs, often of the same instance in question.
In Krampus, we're introduced to Adam Scott and his family, who have an outward happiness, even if there's unhappiness just beneath the surface. His brother, played by frequent Will Ferrell collaborator, David Koechner, (playing a pseudo- "Cousin Eddie" of Vacation films role here- while never overreaching to rip-off territory,) comes with his family to spend the holidays, where their mother also lives.
Where Scott's family may hide their issues more successfully, his brother's family wear their issues as both badges of honor and suits of armor, and it takes digging to find their happiness buried below.
This brings it to something I normally can't stand in films... but is perfect in today's climate; not so subtle political statements. Where Scott is the democrat, Koechner is a gun-loving staunch republican. Like the story itself, it's all done tongue in cheek, and never becomes overbearing; much of what's said and done is for laughs. (Upon a knock on the door, and a present being left on the porch, as they wonder who left it, Koechner quips, "it must have been a Democrat".)
If anything, the political message here is one both sides should be able to agree on: when the chips are down, no matter what we believe, we're stronger working together. (If you even choose to follow through on the political clues throughout the film- as stated, this is far from a political movie, and both sides get their share of jokes in the film).
Of course, it's Scott's son, bullied by his sports-addicted female cousins, that has a crisis of his yearly letter to Santa. In a fit, he rips it up and the spirit of Krampus is personified, besting the Christmas spirit that he and his grandmother seemed to carry for the entire family.
What follows is a great Christmas film; much more one than horror or even comedy. It uses all of the genres it includes to make a great film about Christmas, family, and conflict... while remaining entertaining it's entire running time. And that's what's made Krampus great. You can view it in any way you choose, because each genre it represents, each message it sends is strong enough to watch it as an individual theme, or to just sit down and take it all in.
There's very little letdown here, with my only complaint being a lack of screen time... or screen time of impressiveness of the title character. When Krampus is seen, he's an impressive figure, but I wanted to see more- particularly because it wears a Santa mask that's never removed. As impressive as the rest of the creature is, I would have loved to see what the FX crew had dreamed up as its true face.
While I selected 5 stars, Krampus really should be 4 1/2. The minimal usage of Krampus was enough to leave me that 1/2 star disappointed.
I know what I'll be watching this Christmas!
This review is from Krampus [Includes Digital Copy] [UltraViolet] [Blu-ray/DVD] [2 Discs]