“Krampus” serves up something a little different for the holidays with its unconventional, yet predictable mash-up of comedy and horror. This film attempts to charm the viewer with tasteless humor, showing a family trying to reinstate the Christmas spirit on the days leading up to the holiday. Evil forces are summoned to teach this family a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas, and freakish monsters come to the suburban home to torture these individuals.
The beginning of the film has a “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” sort of theme to it, as the audience is introduced to a familiar setting of an American family hosting distant relatives for the Christmas holiday.
It’s clear that the two families do not get along all that well as they clash and bicker from the moment they arrive. These visiting family members are rude and incredibly ungrateful to their hosts.
The film is centered on Max, a young boy optimistic about Christmas, believing that Santa has the power to bring his family together.
When his bratty cousins steal the letter he wrote to Santa Claus, Max loses his temper and a huge fight ensues after his cousins read the letter in front of everyone at the dinner table.
Embarrassed and fed up, Max tears up his letter to Santa, cursing the holiday and losing faith in the power of Christmas. This act reawakens Krampus, known from old European folklore as an evil anti-Santa, hell-bent on teaching misbehaved kids a lesson on Christmas.
This film was co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who made his directorial debut in 2009 with “Trick r’ Treat,” a twisted Halloween themed film featuring a strange trick-or-treater that punishes those that break Halloween traditions. This idea paralleled the theme he created in “Krampus,” and the film makes a timely debut right before the Christmas holiday.
Dougherty is most well-known for his screenwriting work on superhero films “X2” and “Superman Returns,” and “Krampus” has a lot of otherworldly characters that delight the audience with fantastic scenes featuring evil elves and talking gingerbread cookies from hell.
This film is not to be taken too seriously, and it’s clear that Dougherty had fun challenging the typical themes found in a holiday movie. The cast included some talented, big names such as Toni Collette and Adam Scott. Scott is most known for his role as Ben Wyatt in the sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” Collette and Scott play the role of the parents to main character, Max, played by child actor Emjay Anthony.
Although the characters are not developed all that deeply, there are a few memorable scenes with David Koechner, who is hilarious in films such as “Anchorman,” playing the wild
gun-wielding uncle determined to take down Krampus and his evil cohorts. Emmy nominated Conchata Ferrell is equally entertaining in her role as the outspoken, alcoholic Aunt Dorothy.
This film has some good things going for it. The whimsical creatures wreaking havoc on the family were elusive enough to keep the audience guessing what was going to happen next.
The idea itself is somewhat original as well, and the crude humor was almost a breath of fresh air when comparing this film to cheesy holiday family films that tend to litter the big screen this time of year.
Since character development was lacking, it was funny to watch the children get knocked off by the demonic forces one by one. As the film wore on, the intention of the filmmakers became evident as the satirical nature of the film stood out. More stupid than scary, this anti-Christmas movie would have any audience member shaking their head in disbelief. While it did offer some unique, interesting traits, “Krampus” is one to rush out to see in the theaters this holiday season.