It’s only one week until Christmas, so it’s time to browse through the seasonal movie catalogue, starting with horror comedy Krampus.
(USA 2015, director: Michael Dougherty)
A family get-together on Christmas Eve turns from dysfunctional to terrifying when a festive demon and his minions are called by a boy to punish those who don’t believe in the season anymore.
In a way, Krampus is very much like Trick ‘r Treat by the same director, as it focuses on the darker side of a festivity’s mythology. It lays bare what really happens when people are stressed and forced to gather socially because of a tradition that has lost its meaning over the years with the real horror being consumerism and hypocrisy. In the first 20 minutes or so, very funny dialogues between the disconnected family members make it almost feel like a cruder version of Christmas Vacation, as some of the characters, like siblings who constantly fight, or a gun-loving man who’s similar to cousin Eddie, are memorable and likeable even if they have some obnoxious personalities.
When Krampus finally arrives with a never-ending snowstorm and the family has to fight for their lives against all sorts of freaks in the form of toys with teeth and other murder weapons, the movie suddenly turns into a mix of Demonic Toys with Gremlins in absurd situations, e.g. small gingerbread monsters attacking. However, the movie can suddenly become quite terrifying with creatures that look very much like people wearing masks in German/Bavarian street parades. The way characters are taken by these or Krampus one by one is also quite relentless, even if there isn’t a lot of blood and gore.
Despite the titular Krampus not being very talkative, the movie takes its time to tell the background story with the help of an animated movie in between. Looking at all the original drawings of the creature, it becomes clear that the director put a lot of effort in staying true to them. The transition between horror and comedy might be a bit unbalanced at times and it’s a rather linear affair compared to the episodic structure of Trick ‘r Treat, but Krampus still remains unparalleled in Christmas horror movies and a lot of fun to watch with some genuine scares to boot.
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