Even though Krampus does have the potential to be a new Christmas horror-comedy classic, it misses the mark a bit too much for us.
On paper, Krampus reads as the perfect horror-comedy for the Christmas holiday. It has a strange family with funny and weird family members, which is a huge nod to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation from 1989 (an absolute classic and I watch it every year) and sets the scene perfectly. It also has little horror creatures, which send your mind on a trip down Gremlins memory lane. Finally, there’s the real horror creature, which is the opposite of Santa Claus in the form of Krampus.
While most of the movie has more comedy than horror, Krampus himself is hardcore horror in all its glory.
But the two things, the movie really has working in its favor, are the cast and the writer-director Michael Dougherty. He’s the man who brought us the Halloween anthology Trick ‘r Treat, which is a solid part of my Halloween tradition. Every year, on Halloween, you can be damn sure I’m watching that movie. Also on board as writers are Todd Casey, who usually works primarily with Marvel cartoon TV series, and finally, Zach Shields, who hasn’t written anything prior to Krampus, but did write a song for The Conjuring, so there’s certainly a strong horror link right there.
As far as the cast goes, you’ve got Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) as the parents, and in a beautiful supporting role, is David Koechner, who was perfect in the horror-comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. With him on board, you’re guaranteed to get the laughs in, and when you add Conchata Ferrell (probably best now from her role on Two and a Half Men), you’ve got the comedy parts covered. However, part of the challenge for Krampus is hitting the balance of horror and comedy, and the horror part is a bit more faulty.
I loved the really sharp comedy parts and also, there’s definitely a strong horrorcore in the story. To me, it was the parts in between, where we saw family drama without either. Or actually, it wasn’t really a drama, it just felt like too much waiting for the story to move along, which is pretty amazing considering everything took place within one full day!
I will say this though, the boy who’s actually at the center of the story, Max, was played by Emjay Anthony (Chef) and did a perfect job. Whenever he’s on screen, it felt like the story was relevant and even if nothing much happened, you were intrigued by the kid. He was trying so hard to keep the Christmas spirit alive but never expects anyone else to do all the heavy lifting, so your heart breaks with him when he finds himself surrounded by a bunch of Scrooges.
Look, maybe my expectations were just too high when I watched this because I love Trick ‘r Treat so much. And watching it in the middle of Spring probably didn’t help either. That’s why I’ll definitely be watching it again next Christmas, but as for now, it just fell short of really being a new classic for me. But again, maybe I just expected too much.
Krampus is out on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD now.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Stefania LaVie Owen, Emjay Anthony, Conchata Ferrell
A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.
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