365 Days of Horror, Day 37: Krampus (2015)

I finally saw this! The movie I’ve been waiting for since it was announced! A home invasion movie featuring an Alpine Advent demon!

Early press announced that Krampus was going to be a horror-comedy (especially as stars Adam Scott and Toni Collette are veterans of the latter genre), though the trailers made it look darker than it really ended up being. Because of everyone involved, not least director Michael Dougherty (responsible for the excellent Trick ‘r’ Treat), it looked promising. And it was fun!

The movie’s plot is thankfully simple: Scott and Collette play a fractured couple hosting some relatives for the holidays. Their daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen) is a distant, teen cliché and their son (Emjay Anthony) is young enough to be upset by the fact that Christmas feels like a chore-laden afterthought to others instead of the happy family gathering it used to be.

It’s a holiday scenario that’s all too familiar to some of us, though after some Home Alone-style introduction to their dysfunctional, extended family, the action gets going pretty quickly. The daughter goes missing after going to check on her boyfriend, and from there, it’s murderous chaos for all the family.

Krampus himself is not clearly featured on any of the posters, trailers or other promo material. As much as my friends thought it was cute that I was so impatient to finally see him on-screen, I’m glad the reveal was later on in the film, and that he was used sparingly. His design was different than I expected, and it worked – rather than a furry, potentially comical Yeti, he’s a skeletal, hollow-faced ghastly ghostly version of St. Nicholas. And if you look closely, I swear he has holly as his irises.

Which leaves much of the terror to ol’ Krampus’s cronies, the stars of the show, who were creatures that looked like if Betelegeuse  got on crack and designed toys for Gremlins. We’ve got elves, a giant, razor-toothed teddy bear, a pretty fucking terrifying jack-in-the-box, and (my personal favourite): a trio of helium-voiced, murderous gingerbread men. I want one I want one I want one!

My only gripe was that, for a horror comedy, there weren’t any gifts of comedic dialogue (why on earth not, when you have two leads with expert comic timing??), leaving all of the actors to react to and scream at those pretty inspired creature designs. Maybe it leaves for little replay value, but I’d still happily keep it on a yearly Christmas list right next to Gremlins.

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