Recently: “Krampus”

When it comes to the holiday film, sometimes you just need something less serious. Something with more fun in it. The horror holiday themed film is always a good place to start looking for just that. There’s at least one new film each year. However, that doesn’t mean it’ll be the best type of experience. For that, you’ll have to do a bit more work. But when you find a truly wonderful holiday film, you’ll just know it.

The Universal Pictures film “Krampus”, is the right mix of scares, laughs, and holiday spirit, that no matter how stupid you think things are getting, you can’t help but enjoy it.

This horror comedy stars Adam Scott (upcoming projects “Fun Mom Dinner”, “Big Little Lies”), Toni Collette (upcoming projects “Fun Mom Dinner”, “The Yellow Birds”), David Koechner (upcoming “Twin Peaks”, “Angie Tribeca”), Allison Tolman (upcoming series “Downward Dog”, “Drunk History”), Conchita Ferrell (“Grace and Frankie”, “Two and a Half Men”), Emjay Anthony (“Incarnate”, “Bad Moms”), Stefania LaVie Own (“Chance”, “All We Had”), and Krista Stadler (“Das Geheimnis Dee Hebamme”, “Der Urbino-Krimi”).

The film was directed by Michael Dougherty (“Trick ‘r Treat: Making Friends (Short 2011)”, “Trick ‘r Treat”) and written by Todd Casey (“Future-Worm!”, “Wander Over Yonder”), Dougherty (“Trick ‘r Treat”, “Superman Returns”), and Zach Shields.

The film originally opened on Dec. 4, 2015.

The moment I saw the film’s trailer, over a year ago now, which makes this film still pretty damn recent, I knew this would be fun! I’m a sucker for these types of films, even though I do still have standards when it comes to how much stupid I’ll take. I mean, I did watch and write about “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever”, and that’s pretty stupid, but oh so much fun! It really depends on the type of person you are and the kind of mindset you have. I’ve discovered that if you go in knowing full well what type of film you’re getting and expecting only so much (again, Grumpy Cat), then you’ll more likely than not, enjoy it. There will be something that makes it all worth it. Of course, I’ve also suffered through some pretty terrible films and TV movies, so it’s not a complete guarantee. All you can do is try.

With this holiday horror spectacle, you shouldn’t have to try too hard. It all comes pretty easily.

It’s all about family and family gathering’s. From start to finish. Somehow the writers were able to make that a constant, and surprisingly, it works. It’s the one thing that grounds this film, and allows for you to enter this world, which will soon be tipped on its head. The obvious is that family is universal. You’re one of these people or know someone like them. Sure this family, and the extended family members who come to visit, may be a bit over the top, but somewhere in there, there’s something familiar. You get it. You also have your own ideas of what the holidays are and what family get togethers should be like. In some ways, I find that this film also speaks to the stress of the holidays and the thoughts and feelings we may have towards our loved ones. Yes, we love them, but at the same time, less is more. Deep down, I’m sure we’ve all had thoughts that are similar in nature to what happens to this family.

Thus, watching people, both nice and horrible, be terrorized has never been more fun. It really hasn’t. That’s the beauty of this film. No matter how you feel about the characters, which shouldn’t be all that much or deep as that wasn’t really the focus of this film, you get plenty of opportunities to laugh at their collective misfortune. It’s the price they rightly deserve to pay. Be it the creatures and Krampus or one another, there’s enough destruction and mayhem to keep you interested. More importantly, there’s also tons to keep a smile on your face, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be laughing out loud a few times. I certainly did when all the creature mayhem started happening, and never really let up, but that’s because I enjoy this type of crazy in films. It’s like watching any of the “Sharknado” films. They’re bad and they know it, (as if they’re living beings) as do the audience and they don’t expect anything more or less, but it’s because the film’s, especially after the first one, don’t try to take themselves seriously. There’s then more of an ability to have fun and be outlandish. That’s what seems to have happened here, but without all the cheesy and super over the top the “Sharknado” films achieve. Sure what’s done in this film is ridiculous and a bit stupid, but it’s pretty well executed and is easy to look past, especially if you’re in the moment and carried away by the film.

A fun little note. I love this film so much, that even thinking about the creature sequences now, is bringing a pretty big smile to my face. I’m practically laughing out loud as it is. If anyone were here with me now, they’d probably think something is wrong with me.

Anyway. Keeping with the amazing creatures and the sequences they were each featured in, I can’t ignore a few more noticeable things. First, I don’t have a favorite. Okay, I’m trying not to, but it’s tough. That’s how much I loved, and was semi-surprised but not scared, by what was done. In terms of the holidays and what we typically associate with them, it’s almost like a line was crossed. That’s also the beauty of horror. Everyday things can be turned into something a bit more frightening and the impact may last awhile. The scene and times I’m thinking of the most involve the little gingerbread men. (I’m cracking up now. Great.) They’re so tiny. They look so friendly, but if you turn your back, they’re likely going to shoot a nail or two into it. The sequence where they try and murder Koechner in the kitchen, with a nail gun, is just too much! Mayhem! Madness! Hilarity! Plus, and this always gets me, the gingerbread men make noises! While I can’t describe what those sounds are, it makes them even more adorable and maniacal. It’s why I like them and find their scenes to be some of the best! The second bit that makes this feel like a line’s being crossed, is the treatment of the children. While a few of them definitely deserved to be eaten by the creatures, it’s no less surprising. On the opposite side, it’s strangely hilarious. I still love the ending where you think it’ll go one way, but doesn’t. So funny! But back to children being eaten and attacked. It’s just not something that’s done in such a straightforward manner. The last time I saw a child get killed by a creature was in the film “Feast”. The first time just outright shocked me. It’s seems to be something of an unspoken rule, so to see it broken multiple times, isn’t just fun, but unexpected. I applaud everyone for taking this approach and being so game to get eaten!

However, none of the stuff mentioned above would matter or mean much, if not for all those involved in bringing these deadly creatures to life. The work they did was incredible! The detail was top notch, that while I wasn’t scared by the individual moments the creatures appeared in, I was so thankful they existed only on the screen. I wouldn’t want to meet any of them. While I didn’t put too much thought into it at the time, since I’ve been wondering how much were practical effects versus CGI. I could see a lot of it being practical, as it wouldn’t be that hard to orchestrate and certainly cheaper. Some of the sequences definitely screamed CG, but it probably would’ve been impossible to do them otherwise. The ones I’m hoping were practical include the bear, the clown, and the Angel, while the gingerbread men would be a huge plus! It just makes sense to have them be practical. So much more can be done to get a genuine reaction. Regardless of which ones are practical or animated, the creators certainly had a good time creating the most frightening creatures. I’d say it paid off. Both scary and ridiculously hilarious situations were able to be created because of this work, and in the end, the only people who suffered were those who skipped this film and saw something worse. I’m sure there’s some of those.

The horror holiday film needs to be fun. That’s about it. Pick a holiday, any holiday, and it needs to be fun in some way. Granted, so too do other holiday films. It’s not much to ask for, but too often it’s not easy to deliver. So much of it’s just cliché and proves to not have been worth it. Having standards for horror holiday films may seem silly, but if you don’t, all you’ll do is consume film’s that are less than mediocre, and have no chance at being even somewhat worth your time. Shoot as high as you can, and you may be surprised by what you can find.


One thought on “Recently: “Krampus”

  1. great review. One thing that bothers me with Krampus’ cast. I do love Toni Collette, especially in Velvet Goldmine and probably in her most famous role as Muriel, but I thought her super dramatic acting style was a bit too much for a scary comic Xmas movie. She doesn’t really fit in the genre as the other ones do. Other than that, awesome movie!


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