A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.
A dip back into the 2015 pool, to a movie that I just didn’t get a chance to see in theatres. Krampus is exactly what it claims to be: a Christmas time horror movie, with a giant monster version of Santa Claus. If you’ve seen a trailer for this one, then you really do have a good idea what you’re in for. It’s a dark, funny, and predominantly fun film that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that.
The cast was the first indicator that this would be a movie with more elements of comedy than horror, with Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation), David Koechner (Anchorman), Allison Tolman (Fargo), Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men), and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) all add up to a pretty funny bunch to drive the movie forward. The lot of them play a family that couldn’t be any more cartoonishly dysfunctional, which is the one thing that worked against this movie for me. While there are plenty of families that don’t get along, the level that these people operated on, while continuing to still interact with each other, is a bit outside the realm of possibility for me. That said, they’re definitely living in some kind of heightened reality, and considering the tone of the rest of the film, I quickly got over my dislike of their characters.
The movie also stars Austrian actress Krista Stadler as the grandmother, Emjay Anthony (Insurgent) as a boy who misses his family and happy Christmases, and Stefania LaVie Owen (The Carrie Diaries) as the older sister who is, surprisingly, taken by Krampus very early in the movie.
One of the things I liked about this movie immediately, is that it hits that sweet spot of self awareness where the tone of the movie matches the absurd tone, without spending 90% of the film winking at the camera. There are enough moments of comedy balanced with enough genuinely creepy or scary moments that there feels like a good balance. Perhaps a bit sillier than Cabin in the Woods, but not quite as silly as Tucker and Dale vs Evil (both movies that I love by the way), if that helps give it a bit of a scale.
Krampus is well designed, and feels massive and intimidating in this brief moments on screen, but its his minions that will make the movie memorable, and probably a fun favourite for the holidays. His tiny, evil gingerbread men are cute and somehow menacing, his evil teddy bear and angel are effective, and probably the most bizarre and upsetting is the Jack-in-the-Box with the disgusting, wet, fleshy mouth. The monster design is a lot of fun, and even more wonderful is the fact that they exist and aren’t just thrown together in a computer. There is a great incorporation of practical and digital effects, that really give this some lasting impact.
Perhaps the most important moment, for me, was the ending. It definitely fakes you out, and I found myself genuinely upset up until the full reveal. It’s actually a surprisingly bleak end to the film, and overall it works for me. While I’m sure some might not like it, and others might have wanted something a bit happier, there’s something really satisfying about a movie that wraps up completely, even if it’s not in the most positive way.
On the whole, Krampus is a fun Christmas time monster movie. It’s reasonably well acted, and has a really good balance of humour and scares. It’s funny, and doesn’t take itself too seriously which is a welcome change from so many of the self-serious crap we’re forced to choke down as horror fans. Give this one a watch, it’s worth the time.
My Rating: ****