Saturday, December 5, 2015

Jofo @ The Movies: Krampus

You better watch out kids, Michael Dougherty is coming back to town
Michael Dougherty is quickly becoming an underground favorite name, mostly due to his formerly under-appreciated debut Trick R Treat becoming a cult hit, and for his frequent work with Bryan Singer ,particularly X2. I personally liked Trick R Treat for it's fantastic Halloween atmosphere, and it's love for horror anthologies of the days gone by, but was a bit mortified by one particular thing, Dougherty has a particularly vicious streak towards children in his movies, with them comprising roughly 80% of Trick R Treat's body count and almost all of them quite brutal deaths usually reserved for bad guys or Jason Voorhees victims; so when I saw his name attached to this movie starring the internet's favorite folk-lorish Christmas devil the first question I asked myself was, how many fictional children aren't going to see fictional high school on account of literally being in multiple places at once.

It's once again the "most wonderful time of the year" but sadly Tom and his family are struggling to be merry between the stresses of holiday shopping, recitals, and their obnoxious complaing relatives spending the week with them. The stress eventually gets to Tom's son Max who renounces his belief in Christmas before tearing his yearly letter to Santa into shreds and hurling it out the window. Poor Max however will come to regret his decision when his strong feelings seem to summon a powerful blizzard and an ancient evil along with it that just might grant his wish in a way he didn't intend it to.

Krampus wisely opts for a more horror-comedy approach, and winds up being better for it, since if this situation was played entirely straight, then this wouldn't be a particulary good or even memorable movie (minus one particularly chilling part involving a Jack In A Box *shudders*). Though we do have a lot of moments where some pretty seriously twisted moments happen, it also has a lot of funny dialogue and jokes in it as well, providing some sense of self-awareness and juxtaposition alongside the dark yuletide horror we're witnessing. It also helps that the characters, while a bit flat, are excellently portrayed and don't really grate on the nerves (yes even Conchata Ferrell) while the danger is afoot, so viewers won't find themselves wishing anyone into oblivion and instead will be genuinely nervous about if this family will surive the night. 

All horror movies live and die by the scares, and I must say...this movie is pretty creepy. There are very few jumpscares  with Krampus relying more on creepy imagery and practical effects (with very limited CGI) that look straight out of the eighties horror films (this being a good thing) to instill chills rather than jump out and go boo constantly, thus showing an admirable amount of restraint absent in horror today, leaving a lot to your imagination as well. That being said, the two or three jumpscares in the movie are pretty lame and not well utilized at all, being more unmemorable and annoying than rage-inducing ultimately.

Like Trick R Treat before it, Krampus absolutely basks in the atmosphere of its respective holiday, from it's soundtrack featuring Christmas classics AND twisted versions of the traditional carols, to the sets this movie looks and feels like it's Christmastime, and the horror of the movie isn't bad either, I'd go as far as to compare it to Gremlins as an excellent Christmas horror movie/black comedy. 

Grade- B+

  • Excellent acting
  • Great Christmas AND horror atmosphere
  • Brilliantly creepy practical effects with minimal CGI
  • Both really funny, and bone-chillingly scary

  • It's few jumpscares are clumsily executed.

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