KRAMPUS (USA/15A/98mins)
Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell, Krista Stadler, Emjay Anthony, Allison Tolman
THE PLOT: Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and happiness, but Max (Emjay Anthony) starts off his festive season fighting with another kid at school for saying Santa isn’t real. Things go from bad to worse when his cousins come for Christmas and quickly tease him for still believing in Santa. After he tears up his letter to Santa, a blizzard hits the town, cutting the family off from the rest of civilisation, and when their number begin to disappear, the truth becomes clear; Krampus got Max’s letter asking for kindness and a Christmas spent with his family, and has come to bring him the exact opposite.
THE VERDICT: ‘Krampus’ takes its inspiration from an ancient myth in German speaking alpine regions, of a horned, hooved creature who would punish the children who had been bad all year, while St. Nicholas (Santa) rewarded those who have been good. There has been a resurgence in Krampus’ popularity in recent years, and he has appeared on TV in ‘American Dad!’ and ‘Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated’.
The cast of ‘Krampus’ features some very familiar faces doing their very best horror movie acting; Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell and Allison Tolman are joined on screen by Krista Stadler as the grandmother of the family, the one who has seen proof of Krampus’ work with her own eyes. The cast do well with their roles, although most of them are just given thin stereotypes to play, but there is plenty to laugh at with David Koechner and of course Toni Collette brings gravitas to everything she does, even a Christmas horror movie.
The story, written for the screen by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields is one that follows all the horror movie tropes, but seems to be aware of the silliness of a Christmas monster coming to get those who have forgotten the “miracle of Christmas and the sacrifice of giving”, as well as demonic gingerbread men, toys and elves. The story rattles along in a familiar fashion, with a jumpy set piece and a nice twist wrapping proceedings up in an entertaining and over the top manner.
Director Michael Dougherty plays the film for B-Movie scares and laughs, and makes the whole affair entertaining and well paced. Sure, there are holes in the film – why doesn’t anyone truly care when people start to vanish!? – but the film is entertaining enough to let this slide. As well as this, there is a rather beautiful animated sequence, and the look of Krampus himself is scary and wonderful with just the right amount of darkness.
In all, ‘Krampus’ is a fun twist on the awkward family holiday comedy. The cast do well enough, the scares are scary and the film is ultimately just the right mix of Christmas and scares, even if the characters are thinned out for the sake of the scares.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
3.5B-Movie scares!
  • filmbuff2011

    Michael Dougherty’s debut feature, Hallowe’en anthology Trick ‘r Treat, was much ballyhooed in horror circles in 2007, but it turned out to be a damp squib that eventually made a soft landing on DVD. Still, it showed potential in the young director. That potential has been fully realised in his follow-up feature, another seasonal tale of terror called Krampus. An average American family gathers together on Christmas Eve to try and celebrate Christmas. There’s Tom (Adam Scott) and his wife Sarah (Toni Collette), along with their young son Max (Emjay Anthony) and daughter Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen). Also staying over are Howard (David Koechner), his wife Linda (Allison Tolman) and their kids. There’s also Tom’s German mother Omi (Krista Stadler). But the season of giving is not going to happen in this family, given all the petty squabbling and arguments. This prompts Max to declare that he hates Christmas and everything involved with it. Bad idea. Losing the Christmas spirit could get you killed, particularly when the whole family is snowed in and unable to escape. For Max has summoned Krampus, a Christmas devil from German folklore who feeds off bad feelings and lack of faith at Christmas. He’s the anti-Santa Claus. First glimpsed running across rooftops by Beth, Krampus stays mostly in the shadows. First he sends his army of helpers to terrorise the family, before he moves towards more sinister purposes… To put it simply, Krampus is a cracking little horror film. It takes the standard holiday season set-up and turns it on its head with some very imaginative and humourous results. The tone of the film is just right – sweet but scary, with a devilish streak running through it. It’s not as dark as one might imagine. It’s closer in tone to something like Gremlins, as various minions invade the family house. For example, nail-gun toting gingerbread men or monstrous jack-in-the-boxes who gleefully devour little children. The creature design is superb, mostly using old-school animatronics and creepy costumes and masks. Dougherty knows how to pull out the stops too, keeping the best to last. The hulking Krampus is an unsettling character – a dark fairytale monster who stomps on Santa sculptures and faces down against Omi, who he once had an encounter with as a child (in a beautifully animated sequence). Returning to horror once again, Collette is a solid maternal figure and reliable character actor Koechner gets a stand-out moment with a shotgun. There’s much to enjoy here and with a 15A cert, you could bring more adventurous kids to it who might enjoy a less saccharine and more twisted Christmas tale. Krampus is the last horror film of the year – so it went out on a high. A definite step up from Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus is a Christmas cracker with many surprises. ****