By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B- (3 stars)
When I first saw the trailer for Krampus, I honestly thought it was going to bomb hard, a demonic creature in Santa Claus’ image attacking a family that completely lost the Christmas spirit? Come on, we’ve seen these films many times before, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Black Christmas to name a few.
Fortunately, after seeing the movie and reading the reviews, I was 100% wrong, Krampus doesn’t follow in the footsteps of those standard Slasher movies, we’re so used to today, but rather in the footsteps of those quirky and dark horror-comedy classics that were directed by Joe Dante, specifically Gremlins…and maybe Small Soldiers, but Gremlins is so much better. I was surprised Dante didn’t direct this movie, because it feels like his fingerprints were all over it, but instead we have Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat) in the director’s chair, who’s previous horror film, Trick ‘r Treat has a very similar tone, where it’s both creepy and silly at the same time, except this is a Christmas movie.
The movie is filled with creativity creepy designs for all the little Hell-Spawns out to attack our protagonists, winks and nods to other horror-comedies, and plenty of clever laughs and frights. While it may not that scary once you actually see it, the creativity and suspense should keep you entertained and leave you with terrifying Christmas glee.
The film starts off three days before Christmas and a family gets together to celebrate the holidays, Tom (Adam Scott-Star Trek: First Contact, Knocked Up, Black Mass) and Sarah (Toni Collette-The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine, The Way, Way Back), and their children, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen-The Lovely Bones, Running Wilde, The Carrie Diaries) and Max (Emjay Anthony-It’s Complicated, Chef, The Divergent Series: Insurgent), Sarah’s sister, Linda (Allison Tolman-Fargo, Addicted to Fresno, The Gift), her husband, Howard (David Koechner-Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Saturday Night Live, The Office), their children, Steve, Jordan, Howie Jr., and their newborn daughter, Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell-Mystic Pizza, Frankenweenie, Two and a Half Men), and Tom’s German mother. And guess what? They’re a dysfunctional family, they argue, fight, and pretty much lost their Christmas spirit.
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill after Max has a meltdown at the dinner time and completely turns his back on Christmas, but that’s only the least of their problems. Max unintentionally summons a creature in Santa Claus’ image that doesn’t give, but rather take from them, and I ain’t talking about no Grinch.
No, the creature Max summons is known as Krampus, a demonic goat man wearing Santa’s hat and coat that leaves gifts to all the boys and girls. Now don’t get too comfortable, these gifts are there to attack them, it’s like if Jack Skellington intentionally wanted to destroy Christmas.
So with no power, water, or food (except for the leftovers that nobody likes), little creatures lurking in the house waiting to attack, and Krampus stalking them from outside, the family must stay together and figure out a way to stop Krampus’ wrath before the season of giving goes to Hell.
Overall, Krampus is one of those horror-comedies that definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, it’s very self-aware of how ridiculous the concept is and it seems like the filmmakers are doing whatever they want with it, which is what makes the movie so fun, about the same amount of fun as Shyamalan’s The Visit. Surprisingly what really stood out throughout the entire movie were the very beginning of the film and the buildup to Krampus, they don’t jump right into the horror, it almost feels like you’re about to watch a Christmas comedy during the opening credits, and of course the Krampus buildup, they keep him in the shadows throughout most of the movie, but only near the climax do they actually reveal what he looks like.
What almost became an issue I would have had was the very end, at first I was thinking “Well, overall it’s a decent movie, but this ending is pretty underwhelming” but don’t worry, before you throw your soda at the screen, just remain calm and keep watching, it quickly makes up for it right before the credits roll.
If you’re looking for a different type of Christmas movie to watch this year, you probably won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re a fan of horror and comedy, it delivers on both sides. However, if you just want the comedy or just the horror, this probably isn’t your flick, but if you just want something different to see over the holidays, you’ll have a fun time.
Like Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods, which became a tradition of mine every Halloween, this could become a new tradition for me to watch around Christmas, it got me in the Christmas spirit in the most twisted way imaginable. Krampus doesn’t quite deliver extremely startling scares, but it does deliver on fun.