The Horror Honeys: “It's Christmas. Nothing bad is going to happen on Christmas!”

“It's Christmas. Nothing bad is going to happen on Christmas!”

A Supernatural Honey Holiday Horror Review by Suzanne

Krampus (2015)

I’ve yet to meet a horror fan who doesn’t love Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, a Halloween anthology that did not get the theatrical release it deserved. That is likely the reason everyone was over-the-top excited that his newest effort was going to be readily available at a theater near them. Unfortunately, it’s getting very little love from critics and general audiences. In a strange turn of events, this Honey, who hates most things, does not hate Krampus. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself.

All Max (Emjay Anthony) wants for Christmas is a little peace and harmony. He wants his parents to fall back in love, he wants to spend more time with the older sister he idolizes, and he even wants good things for his gun-toting extended family. When his creepy cousins humiliate him by reading his letter to Santa in front of everyone, Max loses his faith and shreds the letter, sending it out into the wind. The simple act sets a chain of events in motion, putting Max and his entire family in danger as they desperately try to survive the wrath of Krampus.

Max’s family is more than a little dysfunctional and the dynamic is both funny and sad. Well off, living in an affluent neighborhood, Max’s mom, Sarah (Toni Collette), seems mostly concerned with appearances and dad, Tom (Adam Scott), is concerned more with work than family. Max’s sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), is a typical teen girl, boy-crazy and not happy about sharing space with their incoming family. Grandmother, Omi (Krista Stadler), is the only one who really understands Max and vice-versa. Enter the extended family, Sarah’s sister, Linda (Allison Tolman), gun toting brother-in-law, Howard (David Koechner), and their tribe of bizarre children. They also surprise Sarah by bringing along surly Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) who is particularly judgmental where Sarah is concerned. The obligatory family dinner tips its hat to Christmas Vacation, albeit in a bit more mean spirited way.

The cast is great, especially Scott and Koechner, but unfortunately, the characters really aren’t. Although there is an appropriate amount of time spent setting up the story, there isn’t enough spent on getting us invested in anyone, making their inevitable ends lack any meaning. The saving grace is the manner in which they go out. The monstrous toys are fantastic and take misfit toys to another level. Max and his family are also held hostage in the house by a brigade of the creepiest snowmen I’ve ever seen. Regrettably, Krampus is shown mostly in silhouette or from the lower half. His face is only glimpsed a few times toward the end of the film, which makes you wonder if they weren’t happy with the final design. 

Next stop: Nopeville!
With that said, Krampus utilizes a great deal of wonderful practical special effects blended with subtle CG. That is until we meet the evil gingerbread men. The CG used to create those little demons seemed as though it belonged in another movie. There is, however, a beautiful animated vignette outlining Omi’s backstory and how she came to know Krampus. It was very reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl, melancholy and moving.

Things take a dark turn pretty early, eliminating the wait time for action and it’s well-paced until the last 15 minutes or so. The ending is left to interpretation, which is something I generally have no issue with, but depending on how you interpret it, the entire context of the film changes. This appears to be the biggest sticking point with audiences.

Krampus is a cautionary tale of what happens when children stop believing in Santa and may not appeal to those expecting a horror film in the vein of Silent Night, Deadly Night or Black Christmas. With a PG-13 rating, it’s pretty family friendly, although it may be a bit much for younger kids, blending mild horror with comedy, no vulgarity and limited gore. If you go into Krampus expecting it to be on par with Trick ‘r Treat, you will be really disappointed. This film is campy and uneven at times, but if you can just sit back and relax, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Supernatural Honey's Holiday Horror Verdict: 3.5 pneumatic nail guns out of 5

Watch out for that pastry!