Dir. Michael Dougherty
What Michael Dougherty did for Halloween with Trick r Treat, he does for Xmas with Krampus. It is safe to say along with Xmas staple must watch movies every year, Black Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Silent Night, Deadly Night and Scrooged, you can now add Krampus to that list. But what the hell is a Krampus and why haven’t you heard of him before?
Based in German folklore, Krampus is a horned, hairy beast of a creature who walks on hind legs and punishes naughty children at Christmas time who have misbehaved. Believed to pre-date Christian traditions, Krampus has been a familiar figure in select European countries for a long time. It is only recently that America has finally discovered this ancient character and started to adopt him into our own Xmas traditions. Over the last few years Krampus Xmas cards, Xmas sweaters,and even parades have been popping up more and more around the country. So why has it taken Hollywood so long to discover this holiday creature? One can only speculate how the idiocy of Hollywood actually operates, but thankfully someone finally got on the ball about it, and thankfully that someone was Michael Dougherty who made a big splash in the genre pond with his Halloween holiday based film Trick R Treat.
Krampus opens with one of the most truthful fact of the matter realities of the holiday season. The insanity of the holiday buying frenzy where the season is all about sales, and gifts, and department stores and trampling your fellow man to get the latest gadget. From there we segway into the joys of family and dealing with those visiting blood relatives who we have nothing in common with. An all too real situation in what today’s Holiday season has become. Krampus is filled with recognizable faces including Adam Scott from Parks and Recreation and Toni Collette from The United States of Tara do well as heads of a family that consists of their innocent Santa believing son, and their teenage daughter who can’t be bothered with anything but her boyfriend and the German speaking grandmother. Enter the in-laws led by David Koechner from Anchor Man along with wife, chubby son, two tomboy girls, a baby, a dog and Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy. They couldn’t be anymore stereotypical to Eddie and Catherine from Christmas Vacation if this was a National Lampoon movie.
With the cast in place the story wastes no time in getting down to business. Our cast of characters add to the humor of the situation, but it is Krampus that brings in the horror and does an excellent job at it. After being teased by his cousins, Max tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window signaling the apparently one thing you don’t want to do for Christmas. First the snow storm sets in, then the power goes out and all cell service. Soon strange noises are heard in the attic and snowmen begin appearing on the front lawn, but it is not until the two patriarch men of the house venture out into the storm do they realize they are dealing with something very very wrong. With everyone freaking out it is up to the German speaking Grandmother, to come clean and reveal what she knows in an excellent back story done in animation that at times mimics the Bakshi Christmas specials of old. By now the shit has hit the fan, no one is safe and anything that once resembled a Xmas icon has been turned into a twisted creature on the attack.
Bottom line is this, don’t be a Scrooge, go see Krampus. It is a fun holiday movie, and even though the moral is the same as in all holiday movies, be kind to each other and appreciate what you have, blah blah blah. It is done in a way where you had all year to act like this, now your time is up and Krampus has come to collect. The film has a good mixture of humor with the horror, but not too much that it becomes a comedy itself and Krampus himself is definitely a site to behold. They do a good job of not revealing too much until the time is right. Some of his minions might come across a little silly and cutesy at times, like psychotic Gingerbread Cookie Men, but even the characters in the film belt out at times on how they can’t believe what they are seeing, so it really grounds some of the more absurd moments of the film. The film is rated PG-13, but little ones who still believe in Santa should watch this too, it will surely scare the crap out of them into fearing Krampus and never be bad again. Michael Dougherty definitely needs to take on Thanksgiving next.