You Better Watch out…
From Michael Dougherty, the director of the Halloween cult classic Trick R’ Treat, comes another seasonal film sure to become another cult entry into the horror genre. Krampus starts in the run up to Christmas on the December 23rd. Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette)are preparing the family home for the arrival of Sarah’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman) and her family who will spend Christmas together like they normally do. Despite it being the season to be jolly everybody is quite the opposite. Linda’s husband Howard (David Koechner) and the kids are abrupt and rude, Aunt Dorothy is always critical and often drinking and inevitably the families begin fighting with each other. Caught in the middle is Tom and Sarah’s son Max, who still wants to believe in the spirit of Christmas and yearns for his family to be like they used to, but is left disenchanted this year round. As a result he loses hope, rips up his letter to Santa and casts it into the wind, unfortunately summoning the demon Krampus as a result. This leaves the families trying to unite and fight for their lives against an army of ghastly Christmas creatures, and Krampus itself.
Krampus is most certainly a future cult classic, its a perfect concoction of horror and ghoulish comedy reminiscent of classic 80s horror films like Night of the Creeps and Gremlins. The film opens with a slow-motion sequence depicting Christmas shoppers running amok, fighting and causing chaos within a shop, all set against a calming backdrop of Bing Crosby’s rendition of It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas. It’s an amusing, contrasting look at the bizarre behaviour people have known to exhibit during this most wonderful time of the year, and it is most certainly a fitting start to a film. In fact the scene is very reminiscent of the opening scene of Zombieland.
Despite being a horror film, it wouldn’t be a Christmas film without a moral axis to revolve the film around. Krampus is summoned because of Max, but its from a culmination of the snide remarks, harsh criticisms and alluded to broken relationships within the family dynamic. It’s very much putting across the Christmas period is not what it used to be, with Max wanting the same joy they experienced in years past. Like many a Christmas film, family is the hook of the drama in the story with the ensuing horror reforging relationships. The entire cast are on point with their portrayals of family members, and it is so refreshing to have the awesome Adam Scott playing the good guy more often.
Admittedly this is not a film for your average Christmas enthusiast, the biggest Christmas spirit in the film emanates from the sinister Krampus and its ghoulish collection of warped festive imagery. There are evil elves, demonic gingerbread men and one nutty jack in the box that you wouldn’t want as a Christmas present. As a horror fan the vast array of themes, aesthetics and images that Christmas provides is a huge, largely untapped resource for horror. Dougherty capitalises on this imagery well, much like he did with the iconography of halloween for Trick R’ Treat. As fun as the film is, it does have a minor flaw in it’s pacing for the final act. The finale feels like a mad rush towards the finish line with a quick succession of action, which then gets strangely drawn out in the last 5-10 minutes as the film draws to a conclusion.
All in all Krampus is a very fun film with all the ingredients that make an indulgent and entertaining horror comedy. It’s a guaranteed cult classic for horror fans, and I’d recommend anybody to watch it, albeit with a pinch of salt. In the realm of Christmas horror films it easily sits atop the demented Christmas tree, like a bloody haunted angel waiting to devour those who’ve been naughty this year.