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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

DVD Of The Week: Krampus (2015)


Christmas has come in April! Michael Dougherty's Krampus has arrived on home video and, if I had my way, viewing it would become a seasonal tradition, much like his brilliant Trick 'r Treat really should be required viewing every Halloween.

When young Max (Emjay Anthony) loses faith in Christmas, his dysfunctional family find themselves besieged by the dark spirit of Christmas, the Krampus, the shadow of St Nicholas.

Flavoured with a sprinkling of Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, Roald Dahl, Gremlins, Poltergeist, and even Sam Raimi's Evil Dead, Krampus opens as a savage attack on the crass commercialisation of the festive season, and Black Friday-inspired entitled greed, with a wonderful juxtaposition of It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas playing over angry, violent, miserable, shoppers battling each other to grab last minute bargains.

Max has gotten into a fight during his nativity play, when one of the other kids bad-mouthed Santa, and his hard-working parents - Tom (Parks & Recreation's Adam Scott) and Sarah (Muriel's Wedding's Toni Collette) - are stressing over the arrival of Sarah's sister, Linda (Fargo's Allison Tolman), and her trailer-trash family.

After being ridiculed by his cousins for still believing in Father Christmas, Max tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window.

Almost simultaneously, a massive storm descends over the town, knocking out all the power, and Max's extended family find themselves trapped at home by the weather.

His sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) disappears when she goes looking for her boyfriend who lives nearby.

Tom and redneck brother-in-law Howard (Anchorman's David Koechner) brave the deep snow and driving wind to try and find her. Instead they come across signs of violent, monstrous attacks in the neighbourhood, and are then set upon by "something" unseen and chased back to their house.

Only Tom's German mother, Omi (Krista Stadler), seems to know what's going on, and recounts her own encounter - as a child - with Krampus.

Much like Howl from yesterday, this is another 'spam in a cabin' horror movie, although not so gory.

One element that people might not immediately grasp is that Krampus itself is so powerful - it is essentially a demi-god - that it can't really be fought physically with any chance of winning, despite having a very physical presence in the film.

Krampus is, in essence, a magical puppet master, using his immense powers to bring his army of servants to life - be they twisted toys, evil gingerbread men, or mask-faced elves - to do his bidding.

Despite the film being seemingly quite broad in its reach, its heart lies with Max and his Christmas wish. In a lot of ways, Krampus is more an extended, clever, Twilight Zone episode than an action-horror film, with the physical conflicts being far less important than Max's changing feelings towards his family and the holidays.

The film also pulls a brave trick towards the end, faking the audience out with the worst possible cheesy ending before pulling back to show us what's really going on. If you can ride out the groans brought on by the apparent ending of the movie, the final twist is brilliant in its well-crafted delivery and implications.

Max made a simple, innocent, wish for Christmas. And in finally making it come true, that's where the horror comes in.

2 comments:

  1. This is one that I had some interest in seeing that I'll now be sure to watch. Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Hope you enjoy Krampus as much as I did.

      Delete

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