Review: Krampus

A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.

It’s a rarity to get a good Christmas horror movie but here comes the one that is going to truly smash that, step up quite possibly one of the best horrors of the year, KRAMPUS. Nailing the comedy elements, the characters and a top notch monster it’s fair to say I have been raving about this movie to everyone I have seen (sorry!).

KRAMPUS tells the tale of what happens if you stop believing, if you lose the magic of Christmas and its spirit, you can kiss goodbye to Santa Claus because KRAMPUS is the tale of his total opposite. Set amongst a tension fuelled family get together, our young hero Max stops believing and the next day the town is hit by a snowstorm which knocks out all the power and it is here that we learn about KRAMPUS, his elves and the killer toys.

This movie is just so well done and eventually KRAMPUS manages to get into the family home but not until we have met killer dolls, jack in the boxes and gingerbread men. Yes suspend your belief, let go and have some fun as this is exactly what this movie is supposed to be. It’s made with a big heart by someone who wanted to create a Christmas movie with great horror elements and brilliant humour filled dialogue.

Let downs? Some of the cast are a bit filler and as a horror fan I would have liked to have seen more of KRAMPUS himself and some more gore and guts but these are minor niggles and for me the ending left a bit to be desired but none of these stop this movie being an absolute blast.

I so strongly urge you to go and see this, it has reaffirmed my belief that every once in a while something comes along that shows there can be good horror movies out there and this is no exception. You probably won’t believe what you have just seen but if you want a good Christmas themed horror you won’t go wrong here. A work of pure, somewhat crazy, genius!

Tis the season of good will and what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than a good old-fashioned family get together over the holidays with a bit of horror thrown in for good measure? We all love a festive horror hybrid and here director Michael Dougherty (his second film after the brilliant Trick ‘R Treat) delivers a funny, tense and downright entertaining film that shocks and surprises throughout.

Young boy Max (Emjay Anthony), his sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and their parents – played perfectly by Adam Scott and Toni Collette – are all getting ready for their dysfunctional family to arrive and celebrate Christmas with all the trimmings. Unfortunately things don’t start off too well and Max ends up turning his back on Christmas and his belief in Santa. In turn this conjures the anti-festive spirit of Krampus who is hell-bent on punishing those who don’t believe. And so begins a long weekend of fighting off the festive models gone bad and trying to survive Christmas…

As far as festive horror films go this is a pretty good effort. It builds the atmosphere from the very start and although it takes a bit of time to get going it sets up the characters and the story nicely so when the action does kick in it’s well worth it. The location of the house is encompassing and serves as an effective tool especially towards the end as things get more and more intense. Some of the action cuts away too quickly which is a bit of a shame but there is more than enough gore to enjoy here. The effects are well-engineered and there aren’t copious amounts of CGI used which is refreshing. The spirit of Christmas is captured and turned on its head with demonic seasonal toys thrown in for extra spice!

The casts all fit really well with the nature of the film. Adam Scott and David Koechner stand out the most as the two fathers. Scott brings his deadpan humour from the likes of Parks and Recreation and Koechner delivers the impeccable comedic timing that he portrays in just about every comedy role he’s had! Toni Collette also gives a good performance as Max’s mum and shows that she can delve between serious and lighter roles. The younger cast are all also impressive and Emjay Anthony is particularly good as protagonist Max. Overall this is a seasonal film that’s thrilling and jumpy at times and holds together well until its rather effective and surprising ending.

Many moons ago, the trailer for Krampus drew me in with its Poltergeist clown/predator hybrid, and I’ve been excited ever since. On the way to watch this though, I was wondering exactly why I was excited, and what I would be seeing. Was it a horror? A comedy? A parody? Given the odd lead casting choices (Toni Collette, Adam Scott) it was hard to predict exactly what was to come. SUPER FUN TIMES PEOPLE! THAT’S WHAT! Director and genius behind Trick ‘R Treat Michael Dougherty, keeps the comedy low-key, instead focusing on the wonder of the Krampus legend.
After Max (Emjay Anthony – or as I like to call him – Jurassic World kid wannabe), loses his Christmas spirit and tears up his letter to Santa, he doesn’t bet that there will be dark and dire consequences. As the unwanted Family guests begin to arrive in all their garish glory, they’re sitting ducks for Krampus and his playful minions. Going for a significant kill early on, it plays out at a nice pace, but once the snow hits the fan, BOOM! MERRY MAYHEM! TERRIFYING TOYS! CRUMBY CREATURES!
Krampus’s little helpers are joyous for any horror fan, so much so that it’s hard not make a Gremlins comparison. In fact, I’d say that’s exactly the vibe it gives off. A scene involving the wonderful Conchata Ferrell was so reminiscent of Billys Mom in the kitchen in Gremlins that I was grinning from ear to ear. That grin was kept on my face pretty much the whole way through.
It’s a hugely fun film, with plenty of giddy jumps, atmospheric set pieces (who doesn’t love snow so thick you can’t see your hand in front of you, and a rooftop chase?), and the cast play well to their parts. It was nice to see Adam Scott playing it straight, and Collette going into full on snark mode. It’s always a treat to see David Koechner, and he played the unintentionally funny dickish in-law perfectly. Krampus is going to be on my ‘Christmas watch’ list from now on. Would be best slotted between Black Christmas and Sint. Catch this one to get you into the festive mood, and make sure you write your letters to Santa, unless you want your face beaten by baked goods.

Krampus is out at cinemas now. 




195 thoughts on “Review: Krampus

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