MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Krampus’ delivers humor, special effects, and fun, but not scares
When I first heard about “Krampus,” I’ll admit that I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. Something about the idea of an evil Santa Claus just sounded too ridiculous to be true.
A holiday-themed horror movie is not a new concept, with the “Halloween” series and niche films like “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” but I’ve seen so many of these films done badly, with horrible special effects and acting on the level of a soap opera, that my expectations weren’t too high.
While I will admit to having a soft spot for clever horror twists on holidays, I was not totally sold on “Krampus,” despite the old legend, but that was before I saw who was directing the film.
Michael Dougherty is in the director’s chair for this one, which was an encouraging sign; he already won me over in 2007 with the brilliantly spooky “Trick ‘r Treat.” This was not his first rodeo in the genre.
“Krampus” focuses on a relatable concept, highlighting the awkward torture that family can provide during the holiday season.
The host family, featuring Adam Scott and Toni Collette as the parents, takes in their insufferable relatives for a holiday stay. David Koechner plays Uncle Howard, a character who is so lovably obnoxious in the worst possible way. He’s like you took that one uncle who gets a little too rowdy at every family gathering and cranked him up to 11, “Spinal Tap” style.
The plot really kicks into action when a giant blizzard blows into the neighborhood, turning the outside world into an icy tundra that paves the way for the real stars of the film – Krampus and his minions.
The incredible practical effects steal the show here. The always amazing Weta Workshop, the special effects house behind “Mad Max: Road Fury” and “Avatar,” created monsters that really are nightmare fuel. The jack-in-the-box still makes me shiver a bit.
However, with all of this in mind, this PG-13 film does fall a bit short when it comes to genuine scares. Aside from some of the creature designs being haunting, there were almost no other scares in film. If you’re looking to be frightened, look elsewhere.
Overall, I found “Krampus” to be a surprisingly entertaining film. While it was lacking in terms of its scare factor, the surprising amount of comedy and great practical effects are worth seeing.
In the end, it’s a fun change of pace from the regular Christmas film rotation and definitely something I would watch again on a cold winter night.