When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family's home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.
Michael Dougherty described the film as a darker version of a Christmas family film: "Christmas movies exist in their own little snow globe, where a clashing family, no matter how sick of each other, always manages to overcome their differences and live happily ever after. But what if the family's issues escalated, and then they sort of allow Krampus to seep into their reality?" See more »
Max's obnoxious relatives arrive in a huge Hummer that shakes the whole house, but a slightly later scene shows no vehicles parked outside or in the road. See more »
And all through the house, a whole damn bunch of creatures were stirring.
"Krampus", based on actual folklore in Germany and Austria, may not be without faults, but damn if it isn't a reasonably impressive new addition to the canon of Yuletide genre movies. It starts out as an obnoxious domestic comedy, as one family welcomes their grating relatives in for the holidays. Young Max, played by the very appealing Emjay Anthony, is so distraught by the friction between his kin that he destroys his letter to Santa and turns his back on the Christmas season. Big mistake: an imposing demon named Krampus makes it his mission to punish - make that SEVERELY punish - all those who lose their hopes and beliefs. Soon, horrible weather conditions presage an escalating series of terrors for Max and company.
Co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who also gave us a modern Halloween favorite in the form of "Trick r Treat", this is surprisingly engaging entertainment. However, it's not so much a horror comedy, as it is a full-blown horror movie with some moments of levity. Despite the PG-13 rating, it's not for the youngest members of your own family due to some incredible intensity. It does take on the tones of a nightmare. It's not always believable - if you heard the disembodied voice of a loved one who'd gone missing, you'd sure as Hell want to investigate - but this viewer regards this sort of thing as mostly pure fantasy, anyway.
It does have its pleasures, such as a rich variety of "monsters", which are huge, hideous abominations of familiar toys and goodies. (This viewers' personal favorite was the anaconda sized Jack in the box.) There is some very potent atmosphere and quite a bit of macabre imagery filling up the 2.35:1 frame.
How one responds to the protagonists will most likely affect how they respond to the film. Yours truly wouldn't have minded seeing everybody get theirs. Still, the actors give it 100%: Adam Scott and Toni Collette as Maxs' parents, David Koechner as the gun loving uncle, Conchata Ferrell as the grumpy great aunt, and Krista Stadler as the wise grandmother who knows the score, right from the start.
A solid diversion overall, with some groan inducing dialogue and moments but quite a bit of energy & pizazz and a twisted nature.
Seven out of 10.
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