Frustrated by the constant quarrel between the members of his dysfunctional family, Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) loses interest to celebrate Christmas, awakening Krampus, a demon who will punish his entire family.
There are plenty of Christmas movies out there that millions of people all around the world love to watch around this time of year: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Elf, and my personal favorite which I plan on watching in a few days, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. All of those films are considered to be hilarious but also heartfelt, and I agree with that sentiment. However, one Christmas movie that also fits that bill would have to be Krampus, directed by Michael Dougherty who seems to have an affinity for making horror films set around a holiday.
The first time I saw Krampus was back in January 2017 when I got the Blu-ray copy of the film. I remember watching it and having a genuinely good time, and thinking it was a non-stop bloody delight mixed with some truly excellent humor.
This year, I haven’t been watching as many Christmas movies as I usually would, so I decided to finally go ahead and watch one. But I didn’t want to just watch any old Christmas movie – I wanted to watch something a little bit different. So, my mother and I decided to put on Krampus, which she had never seen before. After rewatching it, we were both in agreement that it’s a blast of a Christmas horror comedy even if it can be absurdly goofy.
Krampus truly has a little bit of something for everybody. If you want a genuinely hilarious comedy movie, you’ll get it here. If you want a Christmas story, you’ll get it here. And if you want a violent slasher movie where gingerbread men literally come to life and start trying to attack people, yes, you’ll get that too.
The first twenty minutes of the film alone are jam-packed with jokes that made me laugh out loud. Surprisingly enough, the tonal transitions from comedy to horror are incredibly smooth, and screenwriters Michael Doughtery, Todd Casey, and Zach Shields handled this blend in a wonderful way.
Adam Scott is an actor who I personally feel doesn’t get enough roles which is a shame because he is honestly great in everything I’ve seen him in, and Krampus is no exception. In the role of Tom Engel, he delivers a nuanced and emotionally strong performance which was a delight to see.
But Toni Collette may be the true star of this picture. As usual, Collette goes above and beyond the call of duty with her performance. She is absolutely hysterically funny when she needs to be, but when the script calls for her to be terrified and panicked, she makes it look remarkably easy.
And Jules O’Loughlin’s cinematography is simply superb to say the least. O’Loughlin did a magnificent job at bringing the Christmas feel to life, and you’ll get similar warm, cozy feelings that you would get if you watched a more traditional Christmas movie such as the aforementioned Home Alone. But there’s also that eerie horror element combined in there as well, making for an all-around excellent atmosphere.
Krampus most certainly does have its problems though. Like I said earlier, there are some instances in which the film gets a little bit too over-the-top. Yes, watching gingerbread men come to life and try to attack people is fun to watch and Dougherty truly never holds anything back, but it takes away from the movie’s otherwise grounded and tension-filled atmosphere that’s established within the first thirty minutes.
Plus the ending is one that I’m not sure I enjoyed too much. It sort of feels like one big cop-out, and although it’s definitely a bold way to end this story, I don’t really think it was the best way to end the story.
Overall though, Krampus is a wildly funny and fantastically chaotic Christmas horror movie even if it suffers from too much camp and a weak ending.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language, and some drug material
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 4, 2015
Running Time: 98 minutes