Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell
Running time: 98 Minutes
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Year of release: 2016
If you were looking for a film that dealt in depth with the mythical demon-like character that punishes misbehaving children at Christmas time then look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a reasonably entertaining horror/comedy that skewers traditional Christmas films then Krampus will be up your alley.
The Engels are a well-to-do family living in an upscale suburb. Their hopes for a peaceful Christmas are dashed by the arrival Sara Engel’s (Collette) sister Linda (Tolman), her redneck husband Howard (Koechner), their brood of obnoxious kids, and perpetually complaining Aunt Dorothy (Ferrell). The exasperated Engels struggle with their house guests and after his two cousins tease him incessantly over his belief in Santa Claus, Max tears up and throws away his letter to St. Nick.
The absence of the Christmas spirit draws the attention of something else other than Santa. Krampus, the reverse-Santa if you will, descends upon the subdivision with his own style of malevolence. Soon a blizzard wipes out the power and phone lines and blocks the roads out, leaving them prisoners in their own home. The Engel’s grandmother warns them to keep the fire going at all times but when the fall asleep and allow it to burn out, the house comes under attack by Krampus and his minions. Grandma Omi relates that she had encountered Krampus as a young girl and watched as the demon dragged her parents to Hell. The family now finds itself in a desperate fight with Krampus’ elves and demon-possessed toys.
Krampus draws inspiration from some of the more well-known Christmas films such as “Home Alone” and “Christmas Vacation” but puts a dark twist on them. Koechner, as brusque, redneck Howard is channeling Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation and takes over every scene that he is in. Ferrell, best known for her longtime role as housekeeper Berta in Two and a Half Men, once again brings her acerbic tongue to the forefront as Aunt Dorothy who never has a good thing to say about anything. Outside of these two, however, none of the rest of the cast is particularly interesting.
Director Michael Dougherty doesn’t spend much time on the traditional myths of Krampus but rather just speeds right into a full scale assault on the Engel’s home with menacing snowmen and killer elves. Rather than punishing kids for bad behavior, this Krampus seeks to take out his wrath on those who have lost their Christmas spirit.
Credit the director for not taking the easy way out and giving viewers a Norman Rockwell ending. In point of fact the family and little Max does everything they can to redeem themselves but in a Twilight Zone style twist, they don’t exactly get what they wanted for Christmas.
Audio Commentary: Director Michael Dougherty and fellow writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields, provide a lively commentary track.
Deleted, Extended, and Alternate Scenes (19:00): Wow! 14 deleted and extended scenes are included.
Behind the Scenes (40:00): A Five part Behind-the-scenes feature which looks at the film’s inspiration, stunt work, creature designs, and set designs.
Gag Reel (5:00)