As we get older many of us have lost the love we harbored as children for Christmas. Maybe we just became jaded with age. Maybe we’ve just grown tired of the commercialism or the exhausting mannerisms of our families. Or maybe it’s just because we’ve stopped believing. Thanks to Krampus however, Michael Dougherty resurrects Alpine folklore to remind us that if we want to keep our lives, keeping faith is important.
Krampus is by no means a scary movie, nor is it a true comedy. It’s a simple – yet effective – amalgamation of both that makes this movie so incredibly enjoyable. From the opening scene which takes place amidst the chaos of holiday shopping, we are shown how modern day Christmas has spiraled into a commercialized chaos far removed for the holidays original tradition. We even meet Max (Emjay Anthony) who takes to fists (or hooves as he is dressed as a reindeer) in order to defend the existence of Santa Claus from a classmate bully. Max and his mother Sarah (Toni Collette), father Tom (Adam Scott), sister Beth (Sefania LaVie Owen) and his grandmother Omi (Krist Stadler) are hosting Christmas this year. And hosting involves inviting family. And inviting family involves? Insanity. Beautiful, subtle yet incredibly accurate insanity. Max’s Aunt, Uncle, and band of unruly cousins are intrusive and rude yet the angst of their presence is relate-able and even personally familiar. All is going as well as it possibly can, which is not very well, until Max’s cousins discover his heartfelt letter to Santa that Omi encouraged him to write. And with a few tears, bottled up anger and one shredded letter later . . . something dark is awoken instead of the spirit of Christmas. The family struggles to survive and rebuild while they fight off elves, demonic toy helpers, and? The monster of Christmas himself.
Krampus has managed to do something that no other Christmas horror movie has done since Gremlins. It is the harmonious blend of light terror, dark humor, festiveness and storytelling that makes it a slow paced albeit fully satisfying holiday film. And while the slow building of the story may wear down some, it was purposeful and meant to establish the family dynamic. You know, so that when they’re being chased by the horned dark counterpart of Santa Claus you kind of hope they make it. Well, at least some of them. Now, just like the holidays with lots of family not everything was good. I could have lived without demonic cookies. But the ending? The ending was perfect. So if you’re looking for a slightly different holiday film to share with the family (teenagers and up), make sure you take them to see Krampus. And remember, Christmas is about sacrifice.
Never stop believing.