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Krampus (2015)

Written by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields/Directed by Michael Dougherty

 Any excuse to throw Horror into a holiday sounds like a good time to me! While dated as a pre-Christian figure of German folklore, the Krampus does not bother with things such as your denomination. Seen as Ol’ Saint Nick’s shadow, the Krampus does bring tidings. Only, they’re to punish those who have forgotten what they have to be thankful for. Where in a time when most people concern themselves over how much they’ll get to save on Black Friday, it felt eerily appropriate more so for todays audiences. Though the film did take almost eight years to get made, Michael Dougherty and his writers knew they wanted a throwback monster movie that could remain practical with their effects yet still pack a punch with its terror.

The story revolves around the Engels (Angel in German) which ties in the German heritage with Omi (Grandma), who tended to get extra sensitive around the Holidays. Perhaps due to having held onto the secret of surviving the “alleged” Krampus when all hope for her hometown had seemed lost. Left with an ornament (his calling card) and warning to never stop appreciating the true meaning of Christmas, it was time to see if his work was taken for granted as her lineage would be tested once more. A rather typical depiction of family angst displayed while handling the stresses that tend to arrive with the Holidays.

Tom and Sarah Engel displaying the most put together depiction of a family, though deep down no better than the relatives coming to visit for the next several days. Having their hands full with four children their own, Howard (David Koechner) and Linda (Allison Tolman) failed to mention they’d also be bringing the dreaded Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) along with. Sarah’s now ‘fancy’ lifestyle something the rest of the family resented with any promise lost at dinner as cousins Stevie (Lolo Owen) and Jordan (Queenie Samuel) made fun of Max’s wish list to Santa Clause. As that night a cold falls over the neighborhood with the power cut, so begins a countdown to when the last candle would burn out.

Because it’s rated PG-13 you’re not exactly sure what to expect so you go in the slightest begrudgingly because in that sense, how good could it really be. Yet once the first killing happens, that same little horror nerd starts to get excited at the possibilities it may now mean for the rest of the film. With dark tones and a beautiful score composed by Douglas Pipes pairing perfectly when it came to setting the mood, an array of Actors each brought a different element to the film; truly becoming the nightmare before Christmas. Because as the minions make their presence known, taking out the children according to the stupidity, we hone in on what most may see coming; Max clearly meant to be left behind (like his Omi). Though history doesn’t quite repeat itself-we’re able to catch a glimpse through the Krampus’ looking glass.

 Arguing that the prequel comic entitled Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas assisted in indicting the films ending. Which does seem pretty laid out. Because he gave back the ornament and demanded his family, he got to spend all of eternity with them trapped in the snow globe. Which I have to believe because one: I love when killers keep collections of any kind (and in a snow globe is even better). And two being that the grandma stated herself, Krampus did not come to reward-he is not merciful. So why would he change things now? People may say that’s not a happy ending but, they get to spend eternity with each other!…Which, really doesn’t sound like a happy ending. But to each their own. It’s what makes the film fun. That your able to argue for any number of points.

Now Adam Scott and Toni Collette are both a guilty pleasure of mine, though I couldn’t quite see them making a life together. I did like that the intimacy wasn’t pushed and they just let the Actors give solid performances. They surely don’t get enough credit for their non comedic roles, though the film is sprinkled with humor. Besides that’s what David Koechner is for! Though he took a step back in rank, he had plenty of one liners warranting laughs. With the biggest surprise being Emjay Anthony (Max) who I’ve been used to seeing in roles akin to the cousins in this film. Having no doubt that as he gets older we’ll see him more frequently; though a ‘family’ film he played protagonist quite well. But overall credit needs to be directed at Michael Dougherty and his team. The different creatures throughout the film probably my favorite; coming in several shapes and sizes, they were kept secret even from the cast so as to get real responses during takes. Immense detail going into the evil elves and puppets, lest not forget Krampus himself! Its a film made with so much love and acknowledgment for the sub-genre (horror/comedy) that if you appreciate those facets of film as well, there is no reason not to enjoy. Sure they use every word you shouldn’t at least once and it’s dark message may get overlooked but isn’t that really what Christmas is all about in the end.