WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Krampus is director Michael Dougherty’s horror/comedy attempt at Christmas gone wrong. Based on Alpine Folklore, the film has some stand out moments but, rather inopportunely, falls short in the long run.
The opening scene, which features a Black Friday rush in a supermarket store, is arguably the best of the movie. Sardonically set to the sound of Andy Williams’ ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’, it goes a long way towards capturing the films’ overlying message; Christmas isn’t what it used to be.
Soon we are introduced to a pretty cliché set of characters, including the typically stressed Christmas mom Sarah (Toni Collette), her husband Tom (Adam Scott), her gun-toting brother-in-law Howard (David Koechner), and her young son Max (Emjay Anthony) in a stereotypical ‘still believes in Santa’ role.
They’re joined by bit-part players Linda (Allison Tolman), Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), Stevie (Lolo Owen), Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack), Jordan (Queenie Samuel) and Omi (Krista Stadler); Tom’s estranged and completely implausible mother.
It’s a shame that the strongest cast-members are often let down by poor writing, the usually excellent Scott (Parks & Rec, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) is wasted in his role as the ‘good guy’ and, similarly, the extremely funny Koechner (Anchorman) deserves more than a few cheap one-liners. Special mention must be reserved for Collette however, who – despite her predictable role – brings real emotion and believability.
There is a fine line between horror and comedy and, in the case of Krampus, Dougherty fails to get the blend right. There is a particularly scary scene – in which Sarah is being attacked by a demonic fairy-like creature – that it is pretty much ruined by the fact that it’s intersected with a hilarious scene featuring Howard and a gang of blood-thirsty gingerbread men. Why Dougherty thought these two moments worked well together I don’t know, however, I found myself laughing so much that any sense of fear became obsolete.
A Disney-esque animated sequence lies at the heart of the movie. It focuses on Omi’s childhood and delivers a general overview of the Krampus myth quite beautifully; so much so that you wonder why the whole film wasn’t animated in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad movie, but it’s an easy watch that, in its attempts to appeal to the masses, has thrown a lot of potential to the wind. You’ll have worked out the ending by the 45 minute-mark, but that’s not to say the journey towards it isn’t pretty fun. No doubt this year’s biggest Christmas-themed film, it’s not unmissable but it’s not terrible either.
Original Author: Jay Michael