It’s that wonderful time of the year, when snow falls & Santa’s sleigh bells are heard ringing. Carollers at the door, warm cups of hot chocolate, the whole family gathered in front of the fire, presents under the tree…ah, Christmas.
When you think of Christmas, what comes into mind? Over-indulgence on food? Fights with the family? Everyone drunk before mid-day? How about everyone you know & love dead at the hands of a mad serial killer or an evil Santa Claus?
Very few people would think of the latter but for a horror movie fan it’s often the first thing that comes to mind. Christmas themed movies are a yearly affair while Christmas themed horror movies are a rare thing but good Christmas themed horror movies are almost impossible to find other than a handful such as Silent Night, Deadly Night & Black Christmas.
Thankfully Krampus can now be added to that small list as it is a gorgeous, well-acted & often funny Christmas horror romp.
Opening with a hilarious montage of the kind of chaos we see in stores leading up to Christmas. It’s a timely reminder of just how commercialised the holiday season has become.
We then meet a young boy called Max, who is far smarter than his years suggest. His family, made up of his mother Sarah, father Tom, grandmother Omi & sister Beth have all lost the Christmas spirit, something that the boy sees & hopes to change.
The stress of the holidays is taking its toll on the family & that is only made worse when Sarah’s sister & family arrive. Made up of Linda, Howard & their children Stevie, Jordan, Howie Jnr & a baby girl. They also bring the sisters unpopular aunt Dorothy. These two families couldn’t be anymore different & it shows in almost every conversation they have.
This comes to ahead at the dinner table as Stevie & Jordan mock Max’s letter to Santa. Humiliated he tears it up & throws it out of the window, the Christmas spirit in this house is well & truly dead.
Soon after a huge blizzard hits the town cutting the power out across the entire town. Max notices that someone has built creepy snowmen in their back garden while Beth, worried about her boyfriend heads out to his house. Along the way she is chased by a huge being & eventually is grabbed while hiding under a truck.
Worried when she doesn’t return home Tom & Howard go out to find her. The blizzards intensity has gotten unbearable but they manage to get to Beth’s boyfriends house & find it in ruins. Something attacked it & whatever it was had huge hooves & stood on its hind legs.
On the way back they are attacked by something under the snow that badly hurts Howard. They manage to escape it back home where Omi reveals just what is going on.
It’s Krampus, a demonic spirit that punishes those who are bad at Christmas, the anti-Santa. She knows this because it happened before when she was a little girl. Her town was dragged to hell & she was spared as a reminder of what happens when your Christmas spirit is lost.
It’s now all about surviving as Krampus & his minions assault the house with everything they’ve got.
It’s chaotic, violent & extremely fun.
What makes Krampus stand out more than most Christmas themed horror movies is the high budget, awesome costumes & effects. Time & money was spent here giving the film that ‘Hollywood’ sheen but its better for it. You can feel the chill as the blizzard takes hold, feel the terror increase as the sinister snowmen increase in number & marvel at the homicidal presents that come to life.
The latter is a fantastic set of scenes as we see presents delivered earlier (unknown at the time but Krampus dropped them off) come to life & start attacking the families. It’s a lot of fun but also unsettling as this toys are violent & very scary looking, in particular the snake like jester with its huge gaping & toothy mouth.
That all of these (excluding the gingerbread men) were costumes & practical effects makes it even better. The same goes for the evil elves & Krampus himself, a towering monstrous being that oozes threat.
The acting is top stuff from just about everyone; the family bickering is believable as is how they rally around each other when they are under attack. The kids in particular are great in their roles although Max’s character is a little too good for my liking.
The film stutters a little bit in the final 10 minutes as characters are picked off at an alarming rate until Max remains. Similar to what he did before, Krampus decides to leave him alive as a warning but Max begs for his family back, refusing to back down to the hordes of evil in front of him.
I won’t spoil what happens next but I was incredibly disappointed at first, thankfully the final scene makes up for it.
Up there as one of the most fun Christmas horror movies to be released. While nowhere as violent or shocking as many it has enough moments to excite even the most hardcore of horror fans. Well filmed, well acted & some great costumes…make Krampus you’re yearly Christmas tradition.