Lately the Christmas horror movies have exploded on the scene, first A Christmas Horror Story and then a slew of Krampus flicks, but then a bigger production and studio backed movie swept in and took over the customary gleeful gift giving holiday cheer with a sinister twisted storyline harkened back to the Alpine folklore with wondrous treatment. Hence, enter director Michael Dougherty, famed cult classic Trick ‘r Treat (2007) and recently announced part 2 to that movie, mixes a black humor and horror movie, of another holiday celebration, focusing less on holly jolly Saint Nick and more on the beastly menace and true teacher of the glorious enlightenment of the season. Krampus’ lessons focus on collecting the misbehaving children and casting them into the pits of darkness, and punishing the evil doers only. The entire legend and origin of the Krampus remains muddle and unclear with contradictions and yet still intriguing to folklore scholars and horror fans in general, and this movie does a well deserve imagination of him, complete with a hulking horned beast, with goat hooves and carries bells, along with chains. Some parental groups consider it a movie that praises and endorses the creature as a worship to Satan, and the chains, once bound the beast as Christianity dominance, but now as a form of cascading liberalism running amok, casting aside the morals and love for the joyous season.
The opening sequence of the movie seems to take many aback with the scary mayhem of shoppers storming the stores, likely linking it to the Black Friday madness, where many appear as hungry and haggard individuals of a cannibalistic zombie horde ready to hurt and plummet their fellow neighbor to the earth. Their abomination to the sacred and holy time of the year that so many championed, becomes a series damning to anyone that impeads their path for toys for themselves and others, the wild fighting so common place each year, that it has now blips on a screen for the evening news. A great place to start the movie, especially focusing on a pre-teen boy, named Max, who fights a bully over the existence of Santa, all while a slight condemnation of the rampant consumerism, which replace the cheers with sneers, and occurs in the background. Max (Emjay Anthony) a highly deep thinker, at his young age, who is not happy with the lack of happiness from other family members during a time of Christmas traditions. Although he does not actually believe in Santa, he believes in the essence of Christmas, and his German grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) encourages him to write a letter to stay safe. The movie switches into the path of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, as the in-laws come over with the best reenactment of Randy Quaid’s family of misfits, filled with a gun toting Howard (David Koechner) and his wife Linda (Allison Tolman) and their three girls, and two of them as tomboys and saddened that Pittsburgh Steelers loss. As an excellent added bonus Aunt Dorothy tags along (Conchata Ferrell of Two and Half Men fame), complains constantly and claims her trailer home more homely than her niece pricey house. Max’s parents Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette, yes the same talented actress with Oscars nominations, and 24-other winning awards) have a private battle occurring and she acts a woman with the perfect house, not a home, a neat freak to exceptional proportions, though not OCD levels. This entire gang brings the nastiness feuding possible, along with humiliation and condescending attitudes and with it Max, destroys his Christmas letter to Santa, and thereby sets into motion Krampus arrival and destruction. However, Dougherty heights the fun, with terrorizing elves, and homicidal gingerbread men (the modern version of the Gremlins, and these monsters might think of Full Moon Productions), though added to a fun sequence between them using a nail gun, and Howard and his dog Rosie. The humor used as a device to lower the guard of the audience to pounce from another direction of insanity with monstrous bloodthirsty toys in the forms of teddy bears and a thoroughly hunger Jack-in-the-box. Meanwhile Max’s sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Own) less interest in Max and more concern with her boyfriend during the freakish snowstorm that Krampus brought with him, ventures out into the storm for him as technology becomes futile. Things come to a head when with all the pain and loss centers on Omi, and she reveals a deep secret in a clever animation flashback. The entire movie brings and wonderful joy and crisp production values that have many fans keeping it in theaters far past the supposedly expiration date of its theater run.
In the month December, many horror fans suffer as channel focus on the Christmas Movies, from Lifetime and Hallmark channels, and in some cases starting on Halloween itself, but the Christmas Horror gives us a refreshing outlet of the excessive carols. Many fans have favorites or even rituals for the month, with watching a different one each day, and that is very possible, especially saving Black Christmas for last or have marathon with Silent Night, Deadly Night series, this avenue made for a gleeful time. Now some other found objections to the writers using Tom and Howard and the battling fathers giving them brevity and large guns to play the heroes while the wives stayed at the homestead, however, this misidentifies the battle lines form for the families the adults each stepping up to defend their children, and the women show with temperament for the pressure.
The only true downside, is with all characters, Collette becomes q shuffled card in the deck, never getting a proper placing, especially with her credentials a tad surprising, though she has great motherly instincts to fight back to defend not only her son, but also others in the household. There were many dialogues occurring with many having no point and suggestive remarks falling apart, yet the lines of Aunt Dorothy condescending attitudes gives the right humor at the critical moments, and allows for the proper character development, with excellent thrill ride to the conclusion. In addition, the creature effects, in comparison to other Krampus films, this one takes on the folklore images with gusto, designing a many practical effects and presenting a bloody treat, even with the PG-13 rating.
This movie does show that a PG-13 horror flick, can achieve success for the genre and fans, and bring a nasty enjoyment and involvement of the toys and foods, though the coming of life of inanimate objects would be over the top, thinking of string of lights, the tree, and of course a Nut Cracker. Nevertheless this movie will find a solid footing in repeat viewings for Christmas Horror, especially with the Twilight Zone close out scene.