Director: Michael Dougherty.
Producer: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Michael Dougherty & Thomas Tull.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures.
Writer: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields.
Starring: Emjay Anthony, Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman & Krista Stadler.
Music: Douglas Pipes.
Editing: John Axelrad.
Cinematography: Jules O’Loughlin.
Budget: $15 million.
Box Office: $61.5 million.
Runtime; 1 hr 38 mins.
Release Date: December 4th 2015
Michael Dougherty, director of the 2007 horror cult classic, Trick ‘r Treat was a horror movie based on the Halloween holiday. You don’t get many horror films set in or based on Halloween, but Michael Dougherty did it. He’s now back to mixing another holiday with horror- Christmas, as well as bringing in a famous folklore creature, Krampus. Krampus is a german folklore monster who is the demon side of Santa Claus: he punishes bad children. Now that is a simple and effective set up for a horror movie and with the film (appropriately titled Krampus) released in December, then this could be a special hit and another cult classic with audiences!
It’s a few more days until Christmas and the Engel family are trying to get into the festive mood. There’s father Tom, mother Sarah, daughter Beth and son Max. But on December 22nd, they get visited by relatives who they have a quiet disdain for; Sarah’s sister Linda, her husband Howard, their children and dog and Linda’s Aunt Dorothy. However, tensions arise between the families causing Max to tear up his letter to Santa which summons Krampus; “the shadow of Saint Nicholas”. Krampus and his henchman start attacking the home and the family must band together go stave off the attacks before Christmas Day.
Krampus is a very enjoyable horror film and the reason it works is because the stakes are high and the threat is realistic and believable enough to work. Each scene that Krampus and his minions appear in is racked with tension and you immediately feel that our main characters are in legitimate danger and that they can and will be killed/harmed by these evil beings. This is greatly down up to our main characters themselves.
The main character, Max, brilliantly played by Emjay Anthony is a tremendous child actor who is a likeable and strong character and gives a very good performance. Towards the end of he film, Max has to really give it his own as his family are being harmed by Krampus and his henchmen. While occasionally at the beginning, he be a bit bratty, Max is an excellent character and Emjay brings a lot to the role, as I really did root for him and I did sympathise with his plight. Seeing him standing up to Krampus and demanding his family back show off the stronger elements of Max’s character and it allows his performance to be more varied.
Krampus’ supporting cast are comprised of Max’s family and all of these characters are ones that you simply do not want to see be killed off, as all of them are well rounded and likeable people. David Koechner is easily the best supporting player, as Uncle Howard. He was incredibly funny and likeable and in the toughest of situations and no matter how life- afirming it was, he would crack out a few witty one-liners. Adam Scott and Toni Collette also give well rounded and believable performances as Tom and Sarah respectively and the same can be said for the rest of the family. However, Krista Stadler as Omi shouldn’t be undercooked as stole the whole film from everyone. Overall, she’s a subtle character but from her mute performance, her eyes and facial expressions would initially have you suspecting that she has something to do behind Krampus appearing, however when she retells her story of how Krampus came and took her family away then it really does leave a lasting impact.
Krampus is an exceptionally made film, as for the most part, practical models are used instead of CGI and that is incredibly admirable to discover. Krampus himself wasn’t a CG creature and the reality of knowing that a guy is in this Krampus suit makes the threat more real and dangerous. The way the creature is shot is just beautiful as shots of him on the roof to a full view of Krampus, you really do get up and intimate with this creature. The way he prowls is also great as his chains drag on the ground and you hear them clinking together. CG is used on Krampus’ minions like the Gingerbread Men and the Jack-In-The-Box.
Douglas Pipe’s music adheres to the horror genre and it captures the tension whenever the stakes are high. Krampus is an edge-of-your-seat horror film as I genuinely cared for the fate of these likeable characters. Also, the scares in Krampus are almost chilling as the lighting is put to superb use to create actual scares as opposed to the usual jump scares that most modern horror falls into. The ending to the film is perfect and it will stick with you for weeks to come!
Krampus is a genuinely exceptional horror film that uses a well known folk-lore creature to scare it’s audience, all the while using its Christmas setting to for extra effect. It’s characters are incredibly likeable, smartly written and well performed. Emjay Anthony gives a great turn as Max and he carries the entire film; the supporting cast are just as good. It’s elements of comedy, while solid was a bit hit or miss for me, however the production is the crowning jewell to this horror masterpiece; an effective threat, great music, Krampus is a film that you will not forget for a long while!