Movie Name: Krampus
Studio: Legendary Pictures
Release Date(s): Movie Release Date
MPAA Rating: Movie Rating
Max (Emjay Anthony) loves Christmas but hates what it has become. His parents (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) fight too much, his sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) only hangs out with her friends, and his aunt and uncle (David Koechner and Allison Tolman) always take over the house with their children who like to beat on Max. The only one who seems to be on Max’s side is his grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler). When Max has a fight at the holiday dinner, he decides he doesn’t want Christmas at all unless it is as he remembers it…and the Krampus hears his wishes.
Directed by Michael Dougherty (who is also one of the credited writers), Krampus is a holiday horror comedy. The movie received mixed review from critics but did surprisingly well upon its release at the box office.
I like Christmas horror movies. Movies like Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night are a different twist on the holiday movie. A movie like Gremlins took the humor of the holidays and added the horror twist. From the previews and the cast, I could tell the Gremlins had a similar tone…but the movie missed some beats.
Krampus is based on European folklore. The Krampus was the punisher of evil children at Christmas time and might predate Christianity. The creature is scary and a great source for material (as seen by a recent rash of Krampus movies). This movie has a lot of atmosphere but it takes everything Christmas and tries to cram it into one film…the Krampus, his minions, and a lot of lead-up. It is too much and takes too long to set-up the movie. It gets really messy at the ending sequence and doesn’t utilize the Krampus enough.
The cast is strong and most of the cast plays the typical holiday film stock characters. The parent characters played by Adam Scott and Toni Collette are the Griswald type perfect (rich) married couple while David Koechner and Allison Tolman are the Cousin Eddie family. Conchata Ferrell and Krista Stadler play the gross, drunk aunt and the perfect foreign grandmother. The aunt and uncle’s children are gross and Max (played by Emjay Anthony) is a nice cast as the perfect kid who just wants his family to stop arguing.
The real star of Krampus is the Krampus, but he’s underused. The movie is filled with killer gingerbread men, nightmare dolls, snowmen, elves, and all things Christmas…but not enough Krampus. There is a segment where the grandmother (finally) gives up the story of the Krampus and the film style changes to a claymation-esque look which is pretty impressive (but the sequence should have come earlier in the film).
Krampus needs tweaking for it to really work. Most of the humorous lines you could see coming a mile away (there were some general chuckles) and the story’s horror and jumps also are pretty obvious. The movie really feels like a cross between Home Alone (with Max as the Christmas loving Culkin character) and Gremlins, but it just seems to lack the extra touches which made them both feel more polished. The movie should have been R-Rated and full of blood and terror (the laughs would come naturally), but instead the movie feels a bit underdone…unlike the gingerbread men.