Legendary Pictures' Krampus, a darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul, reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday. When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family's home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.
In the film, KRAMPUS, the Engel family are celebrating the holidays, and all is well. That is until relatives arrive. It's Sarah Engel's sister, Linda, her husband, Howard, and their children; Jordan, Stevie, Howie, and Chrissy, the baby. And oh, yeah, grumbling Aunt Dorothy. In contrast to the more traditional Engels, their extended family are rather loud and obnoxious, However, through all of the incoming chaos, young Max Engel is trying to keep up the Christmas spirit. Although he is growing older, and many kids his age no longer believe in Santa Claus, a part of him, still holds on to the idea - just because. And it is with that notion that he has written a letter to old St. Nick, one that includes a list of wishes, for both he and his family. It's a letter which he hopes to mail off to the North Pole, soon. Unfortunately, However, the note is intercepted by one of the visiting relative children, who begins to read Max's letter aloud. It is right in front of everyone, so this leaves Max, both humiliated, and embarrassed. Following such humiliation, Max Engel is crushed, as he now contemplates, whether or not he should still send the letter. Ultimately, he decides to give up on the Christmas spirit, as he rips the paper to pieces, and throws it out the window. Little did he know then, the consequences his actions would soon have. The next day is December 23, and the family wakes up, to not only horrible weather conditions outside, but a full power outage. Initially, the family tries to maintain, as they look for a solution. However, they would soon learn that something far more sinister is at play. It all begins when the Engels' eldest daughter, Beth, goes out to find/visit her boyfriend, Derek. She doesn't come back. In fact, something has killed her. When Beth does not return home in a timely manner, both Tom and Howard go out to try to locate her. But unfortunately, they too find themselves under attack from something unseen. The scuffle leaves Howard injured, and his vehicle destroyed, as they make their way back to the house, to tell the others. They don't know what it is, but they hope that, as long as they remain inside, they'd be safe, unfortunately, though, the evil outside makes its presence felt, and it seems as though, Tom's mother, Omi, knows exactly what they are in for. It's because, when she was younger, she had a run in with an ancient being known as "Krampus". And it just so happens to have been after she too, had given up on the Christmas spirit. Known as the "Shadow of Santa Claus", Krampus is the opposite of what he is. He sets out to punish, and instead of giving, he takes. This time, he has come to "punish", the Engels, and their extended family - and he hasn't come alone. With him, is a gang of various Christmas oddities. These include; Dark Elves, animated, and evil gingerbread man cookies, an evil Jack in the Box, an evil cherub, and a teddy with teeth, as well as a toy robot come to life.
With this film, co-writer/Director, Michael Dougherty, who had previously took on the holiday of Halloween, with his extremely fun, Horror anthology, TRICK 'R TREAT, now tackles Christmas. And he does so with the same kind of lively spirit, that he had delivered previously, as he brings a figure of Christmas folklore to the forefront.
As European history states, the evil entity known as "Krampus", is essentially the dark answer to jolly old St. Nick. Some say that, since Santa doesn't actually like to punish the naughty, that it is Krampus, that picks up the slack. Krampus can be seen in many forms, however, the most common form, being that of a devil with horns, that is both, half man, with goat-like, lower extremities - complete with hooves. Furthermore, his act of punishment seems to vary, but commonly has to do with, whipping with switches, and placing kids in baskets, to be dragged with chains, to the fiery pits of hell.
Here, Dougherty's incarnation of the Christmas creature is a re-emagining of the being, appearance-wise, however many things remain, such as the horns and the dangerous chains. Historically speaking, the script, pretty much sticks to a pretty streamlined account of the Krampus tale, when introducing him to the film. His reason for appearing here, is simple. Max Engel has stopped believing, and all Christmas spirit was lost, especially seeing as most of his family enjoys the sacred holiday, simply just to reap its rewards. The reasoning for Krampus appearing is quite simple and straight forward, as is the setup of the film. There are no elaborate developments, such as twists and turns - the film basically sticks to the simplicity of the tale. KRAMPUS is essentially, a fairy tale brought to life in live action form. Now, this isn't a bad thing. That's because once it gets to the matter at hand, it's all fun for there. One gripe that I had initially, was that at the beginning, it takes awhile to get going. However, as I just stated, once it gets good it stays there. I would advise anyone looking to see this film, and if you have a choice, opt for the Blu-Ray. KRAMPUS is a film that was made to be seen in High Definition. Visually, the film is quite the Christmastime spectacle, with vividly envisioned creepies, seemingly lurking around every corner. This was my first time seeing the film, and I must admit that all of the evil things which live within KRAMPUS was a lot to take in. Gingerbread men, a Jack in the Box, a teddy bear, an angel, a robot, not to mention a darker incarnation of Santa's workshop elves. It's a lot to process all at once - but, boy, is it cool! And that's not even taking into account "Krampus" himself. The bearded devil, cloak wearing demon, skillfully wielding hooked chains. All of the stuff is just so greatly realized. so magnificent, that it simply leaves you pondering when you will watch again, as the credits role, just to see it all unfold again.
The film consists of a cast of characters who are brought together in a house - where the film takes place for the most part. Of the Engel family, Adam Scott and Toni Collette are the parents, "Tom" and "Sarah" Both give nice performances, but the brunt of the memorable things come from the support. Such as Emjay Anthony as "Max". "Max is an innocent kid, who believes in the good of the holiday, but in an act of frustration, after he is humiliated, he makes an honest mistake. A mistake that would cost he and his family dearly. In the end, the introverted Max, comes out of his shell, to possibly become the hero. Another standout is the always funny David Koechner, as the Uncle, "Howard". As soon as Howard comes on the scene, we kind of sense that he is basically the "Cousin Eddie" of this film. And basically, that's what he is. He is hilariously macho with his Hummer, his guns, and his masculine way of life. Which is why it's all the more funny, when he loses his shit, and panics under pressure. Allison Tolman is Howard's wife,(and Sarah's sister), "Linda". Tolman is basically the calm of her hyper family, as she plays off Koechner, as well as the other members of the family, well. But without a doubt, the funniest member of the visiting relatives is Conchata Ferrell, as the brash, and outspoken "Aunt Dorothy" Ferrell is just a riot in character. She's a smartass, and she is always unhappy, not to mention, she seems to always have something to say. And some of those things are really memorable. The visiting extended family, are completed with a trio of kids; a boy. "Howie Jr."(Maverick Flack) and "Jordan"(Queenie Samuel) and "Stevie"(Lolo Owen) - 2 girls, whom are very much tomboys. Elsewhere, the Engels are rounded out by Stefania LaVie Owen, as the oldest of the Engel children, "Beth", and Krista Stadler, as the wise Austrian grandmother "Omi". The Beth character makes a nice impression early on, however, she is one that doesn't last. This is unfortunate, as Owen has a cute face, and is likable in character. Stadler as "Omi" on the other hand, is basically the glue which keeps the film together. It is her tale of her childhood, which gets the film really going, and it is she, that is a big part of the film's conclusion.
Overall, KRAMPUS is a real fun throw back to films such as the likes of DOLLS,THE GATE, and GREMLINS, as Michael Dougherty, has essentially done for Christmas, what he had already done for Halloween This film is creativity, with a vision, and clarity. I really enjoyed the film, with really only 2 major gripes. As stated, I felt that it took some time to really get started. Also, I really didn't like the ending(both the one that's in the film, or the alternate one, included on the disc). It is an ending that is reminescent of INVADERS FROM MARS. My question is, why must everything always end so happily? Why not end things on a grim note, retaining an impact?
As I hinted above, KRAMPUS looks great on Blu-Ray. The photography is nice and crisp, with well balanced, saturated hues, bringing to life the artistic vision. The disc includes, as mentioned, an alternate ending, deleted/extended scenes, as well as a cast featurette, as well as a commentary track with the filmmakers. The Blu-Ray includes an exclusive, multi-part "making of", titled "Krampus Lives", as well as a behind the scenes featurette about the WETA Workshop, which details the design and opperation of the film's many creatures.
3/10 With the film being PG-13, there are only a few instances of blood. There are various flesh wounds seen. With its great imagery, we find that it isn't really needed. But then again, just think about how much cooler it might have been, had there been more blood.
6.5/10 The film, is all things dark, ominous, and atmospheric, and really sets a tone. Among the film's dark, original scoring, there is also the use of a few traditional Christmas songs, too.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said above, I really liked KRAMPUS, and had a lot of fun with it. As a seasonal film, it is a great Christmas tale, that brilliantly taps into old folklore, with great imagination. In the special features on the disc, Dougherty states, that with this film, he hopes to have created a film that could be watched annually during the holiday season. Well, i'd say that he has pretty much succeeded, as I have already put the film on my Christmas watchlist for this year.
Special Features include
- Digital Copy of Krampus (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
- Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Krampus Comes Alive!
- Behind the Scenes at WETA Workshop: Krampus
- Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Michael Dougherty and Co-Writers Todd Casey & Zach Shields
- The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast
This film will be released on Blu-Ray on April 26, 2016