First of all, let me just start with me just start off with expressing my love for the Christmas Horror Genre…
For me, Christmas is almost as exciting as Halloween when it comes to annual viewings of holiday horrors.
While the spooky season ushers in such classics as Halloween (and it’s sequels), House of 1000 Corpses, Lady in White, and Trick ‘r Treat; Christmas comes with its own string of go-to classics, especially (for me, at least) the Silent Night, Deadly Night films, Black Christmas, To All a Goodnight, and of course, Gremlins…which brings me to Krampus!
With so many low budget, cheesy, and awful versions of the titular Christmas Demon cluttering movie shelves, it was a breath of fresh air to watch a well-crafted, well-acted, well-directed, and overall amazing take on the popular yuletide devil.
Director Michael Dougherty (known for Trick ‘r Treat, again, one of my favorite go-to Halloween flicks) dives into the basic elements of holiday scrooge’s and dysfunctional families, elevating it into cult classic horror featuring very imaginative and terrifying, yet also lighthearted conceptual designs of different monsters. Even the opening credits depict an all-too authentic scenario, as hordes of people fight and trample each other over gifts to purchase inside a mall, which is obviously a funny yet unfortunately realistic look at the mass chaos of the holiday shopping scene.
The family itself is made up of a number of great comedic actors that range from Adam Scott to David Koechner to Conchata Ferrell, who could have just taken the check and phoned in their performance, but instead, all are successfully able to elicit unlikable qualities, but wisely never going too far, allowing us to understand and empathize with the fact that these are still good people who don’t deserve to be murdered by ancient demons. They simply just need a good kick in the ass about the true meaning of Christmas.
The family dynamic almost comes off as a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation style trope, but that is before the terror starts.
Don’t get me wrong, there is fun to be had throughout the entire film, but the comedic elements die off once Krampus and his minions show up.
The tone and style that he took, it appears that Dougherty was inspired heavily by the films of Joe Dante, mostly Gremlins. Most of the creatures within the film are done practically…which is a HUGE plus. The Elves and Jack-in-the-Box in particular are top notch and amazing.
One thing in particular I want to touch on is an impressive animated, Rankin-Bass styled sequence, that provides some back story, and immediately gives you the childhood feels.
All-in-All, Michael Dougherty has crafted yet another Holiday Horror Cult Classic that will be an immediate go-to for seasonal viewings. I know it will be for me. Step aside Silent Night, Deadly Night, and move over Black Christmas, Krampus is here to stay!