When most people think of holidays and the horror genre, they immediately think that they don’t go together. While I myself don’t care for horror movies around the Christmas season, only wanting to embrace the happiness around the colors and decorations, I can understand that there is a darkness hiding around this time. Christmas time means getting together with the family and friends you’ve grown accustomed to, but it also means a lot of talking. It will be around this time that much of these conversations will revolve around issues you’d rather not talk about in a normal dialogue.
Add that along with tension among relatives you may not get a long with, it can be easy to lose the holiday spirit as anger clouds the mind in favor of resolving your own problems without addressing someone else’s. I’ve had my fair share of trouble around the holidays, arranged from death around that time to a friend making an announcement that shocks everyone. My strategy is to let the other party have their day and tell them that the kind of business they want to indulge in should be reserved for the next year. A whole family faces their troubles with the help of a demonic monster in Krampus.
After a hilarious slow motion opening showing the madness of shoppers around the holidays, Max is scolded by his parents Tom (played by Adam Scott), Sarah (played by Toni Collette), and his sister Beth for ruining a Christmas pageant for starting a fight over Santa Claus. A disobedient son is the least of their worries as Sarah’s sister’s family is soon arriving for Christmas. Though the family knows that the relatives are hard to deal with, Max does his best to keep a positive attitude around the festive season, hoping that he can still have a nice Christmas.
Sarah’s Sister Linda (played by Allison Tolman), husband Howard (played by David Koechner) and their children Stevie, Jordan, Howie Jr., and their baby daughter, along with an older aunt Dorothy (played by Conchata Ferrell) all arrive and have barley anything positive to say. The tension run so high that after Howards kid’s openly read’s Max’s letter to Santa, young Max tears his letter, feeling that Christmastime is a shame.
This causes an immediate snowstorm to knock the power out and block all roads, leaving the neighborhood totally enclosed in blinding white snow. As they start to hear and see strange things, the family is told about the monster coming instead of Saint Nicholas, Krampus.
Krampus could have been an easy straight up horror movie, but its smart enough to take inspiration from Gremlins to add plenty of dark humor. Much of the jokes not only come from the personalities of the family, but also of the creatures that come in for the attack. I guess I would have liked a little more, say something like Evil Dead 2 that had a nice blend of horror and comedy. This seems to be more focused on the dark stuff as it defiantly has a scary atmosphere (surprising for a PG-13 movie).
Krampus is also intelligent enough to know that it is a Christmas movie. Scares are the focus, but story wise, it’s always about two things; the monster and the background on why it goes after those that don’t have the holiday spirit (as told through a nicely touched stop motion scene) and the conflicts of the family and how they resolve them. In a way, Krampus has A Christmas Carol feel to it, especially with how the story ends. I won’t spoil it, but it ends enough to make a good blend of holidays and scares.
I’ll give this four Krampus monsters out of five. While it’s not as laugh out loud funny as I would have liked, it makes it up with some creepy monsters and a surprisingly sentimental story. If you don’t want any horror madness around the holiday season, then you’re not going to like it. If the mood strikes for something different from your Christmas Vacation or Christmas Story, then Krampus may be a welcome down your chimney.