Jollily rolling in like a sleigh-jacked nightmare, this Christmas comedy horror is a fun and very entertaining festive watch, for the very fact that it twists that ho ho ho nature into extreme and yet playful scary stereotypes. From the family to the titular character, this December outing is devilishly good.
On the day that Tom and Sarah (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) apprehensively await Sarah’s family to come over for the holidays, their son Max (Emjay Anthony) begins losing that childlike wonder of believing in Santa Claus. That night he emphasises that loss of hope and unknowingly brings in a reign of darkness under Krampus’ torment to take every soul.
Christmas and wedding movies are apparently the two prime things to make a movie about for big audiences, this may not get the biggest audience even if it fits under the Yuletide but they shouldn’t care because I see it become a well loved cult film in not so many years. It has a well built holiday feel but then totally flips that on its head to bring about the tale of evil folklore and the devastation of belief and hope over Saint Nicholas. Don’t go in expecting something truly Christmassy, likewise don’t go in awaiting a horror road-show as this film is neither but is still fantastically wicked in humour and outrageous dangers.
Todd Casey, Zach Shields and Michael Dougherty concoct a wonderfully hellish trip of evil toys and lesson teaching throughout this scary family ordeal. The members of this family all serve a purpose to a degree and though all aren’t fully well rounded they’re still scripted enough that you root for them or laugh at them when necessary. It shows great skill that in this film the trio of writers bring a comforting level of heart to the film as the madness reaches a peak and Krampus’ minions threaten the humans.
Dougherty himself directs the film with a keen knack for demonstrating the warm feel of Christmas tainted with the now commonplace commercialisation of the time with the suppressed family dramas that spill over into verbalisation and maintained angst. It’s only right then that he gleefully captures the family scrambling and arguing as they first deal with the arrival of the horned figure. It has a tenacious and somewhat enjoyable feel as we watch Gremlin like characters run riot leading to a more cluttered third act as everything possible comes into effect to tarnish Christmas.
The menacing spirits of Krampus’ allies are fun and cute if we’re thinking about the gingerbread men but after a short while they become overbearing and feel as if they’re trying to fit into a more serious horror ideal. This continues with the ending of the final act that I believed would divide people and evidently from a few reviews seen, it’s done just that. I didn’t like the ending and that’s because it feels wishy-washy trying to be a clever response to the conclusion of what happens to the family. It’s also one of those cases where it can be an interpretation but neither feel greatly moulded to leave you happy with whichever you choose.
The build up to Krampus and his story is fantastic, the tension as we see the stepping stones to his big hurrah are all good, the disappearing people, the frozen wasteland of suburban America and the neatly done section of the Alpine story of who Krampus is and how he’s connected to the housebound bunch. So too are the comedy lines, that hit more often than they fail which helps the movie travel along in a breezy way. It has large doses of OTT horror and adequate pinches of nastiness that make you look at fairies and jack in the boxes in a different way.
Emjay Anthony is the kid to kick-start the series of events but even with his sometime watchable acting he doesn’t feel great and his shouting near the end was very hammy. Adam Scott does well and for once isn’t the douche bag which is a change. Toni Collette is the mum with kindness, regrets and despair but doesn’t get much to do. David Koechner gets the biggest share of laughs and action in the sporting dad role who won’t back down. Maverick Flack has a great real name and a great character mostly because of the gormless faces he pulls in his role.
It wavers on a treacherous slip of black ice in the ending moment it goes with but on the most part this movie is comical, zippy and fun for what it is. Jingle Hells!