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Title: Krampus

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:83

Doesn’t everybody love Christmas? It’s that time of year when we all get together and share the happiness and joy of Christ being born. Or for the less religious folks it’s a holiday that is meant to bring family together and share gifts as tokens of love and affection. OR it’s also a commercialized mess that can bring headaches, pain, suffering and the desire to wrap Christmas lights around the neck and pull just to end the holiday season. “Krampus” is directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty who has done such wonderful Halloween lore as “Trick-R-Treat” and brings a bit of a darker side to the holiday. The namesake Krampus is basically what happens when all hope and faith in the spirit of Christmas is lost. You know, when life is so miserable that the holidays are no longer about love and joy, but mucking it out until the end of the month when aunt and uncle and all the pain in the neck cousins and other relatives go back to their own home. While the people who are good and faithful to the spirit have St. Nick to bring presents and figgy pudding to all the good boys and girls, there has to be a punishment to those who ruin and mar the spirit. Another spirit, but this one much less benevolent.

Max (Emjay Anthony) absolutely adores Christmas, and despite being over the age of 7 still has this love of all things Santa Clause, including a not so secret belief in the old guy. However, the rest of his family and the world around him appears to have forgotten the reason for the season. Opening up in an old time 50’s style Christmas song, we see the rest of the world beating each up over trinkets in Wal-Mart, and even his own family seems to be jaded and worn down. Father Tom (Adam Scott) wants to believe, but the weight of life and the annoyance of extra family members seeps into the beaten down spirit of the patriarch. Mother Sarah (Toni Collette) is just about ready to become a walking talking pill machine as she pops Xanax to survive the arrival her sister Linda (Allison Tollman) and redneck husband Howard (David Koechner), and of course the bevy of annoying cousins to boot. Max is finally stretched to the breaking point on Christmas Eve, broken in spirit and to the point of tears from the incredible amount of selfishness shown. Tearing up his yearly letter to Santa and vowing off Christmas, the last spark of holiday cheer is extinguished from the abode.

Being that this is a horror movie named “Krampus”, we all know what’s coming next. With this last spark extinguished on this venerable day of the year, old St. Nick is no longer coming, but the taker and destroyer of those who trample over the holiday is coming to town. There’s no naughty and nice list this year, just a naughty list, and his presents aren’t nearly so nice. Accompanied by a blizzard that snows the whole neighborhood in, Krampus and his demonic toys start to pick off the family one by one. After seeing that something hinky is going on, the once estranged family begins to band together and fight the hordes of Satan’s gingerbread cookies, Angels with teeth, and even the occasional jack in the box who likes to eat children. However, it may be too little too late, as Krampus is not exactly the merciful spirit, and once something is done, many times it cannot be undone.

Let’s just say that I was more than a little excited when I found out “Krampus” was written and directed by the same creator of “Trick-R-Treat”, which was one of the most refreshing horror films of the last 10 years. Creepy and effective, “Krampus” takes a page from that set of Halloween short stories and manages to be both chilling creepy and darkly humorous at the same time. Imagine a world where we have “National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacations” meet “Gremlins” and a smattering of other films into a twisted tale of Christmas terror. The film manages to be funny and action filled and pretty sickening at the same time. The setup is a little slow, but the suspense and foreboding dread combined with surreal looking visuals set the tone early on. Once the action kicks up and people start dying it becomes more fun. Even though there’s a lot of twisted macabre horror going on, Dougherty keeps the overall tone almost light and energetic, as the audience is chuckling at the antics of demonic toys that try and kill people. That and the over the top fun and goofball stunts it takes to enact revenge on said beasties.

There’s some flaws in the script, mainly in the form of there being a bit TOO much goofiness at times. The fight up in the attic was pretty cool, but some of the intensity of the situation was lost when Linda went all “Rambo” on everything. However, the battle with the nail gun and gingerbread men had me laughing till my eyes ran, yet still keeping that dark feeling in the pit of your stomach. I ALMOST thought the ending was going to completely fail us, but in Dougherty I trust, and I was NOT disappointed as the director’s penchant for leaving you without any hope is realized here. The cast work is top notch and each person has their own special flair to add to the film. I was worried with David Koechner as the redneck uncle, but his stupid antics actually work out to the benefit of the film after a while, including a rather gruesome scene with a snow monster.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material

Video :4stars:
“Krampus” comes to Blu-ray with a nice looking digitally shot picture that is a tad smoot hand sometimes flat, but always pretty and consistent. The holiday themed film is alive with bright primary colors like the red of a Christmas sweater, and the white of the snow and brilliant blues to offset the reds. The opening few scenes of the movie seem to be a bit glossy and overly brightened with a push toward the white level on the contrast scheme, but once the movie gets going the darkness and foreboding blizzard darkens up the picture substantially. There is some softness and haziness to the dim picture, but fine detail is always great with wonderful textures and vivid details on clothing and creature effects. Some of the creature effects were a bit weak, especially the elves and Krampus and his rubber face (the budget must have run out somewhere) and blacks are relatively impressive with some washing out of the detail levels in the shadows.

Audio :4.5stars:
While the video is good, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is just plain amazing. Robust and deceivingly aggressive, the audio starts out with a wonderfully immersive Christmas song, but then settles down to a rather standard front heavy mix that relies primarily on dialog. That is UNTIL Beth goes out into the blizzard and the thudding of Krampus’ hooves resound throughout the room and incredibly active natural soundscape is awash with shrieking winds and swirling snow. From then on out it’s a bombastic assault on the senses as demonic elves chatter form all directions, and flesh eating Jack in the Box’s crash through the ductwork and ceiling with abandon. Surround channels get a fantastic workout with all of this and features some finely nuanced ambient noises as well. Dialog is never under scrutiny and everything is perfectly intelligible, even during the most hectic moments. The LFE channel is punishing, with deep LFE that rocks the entire home theater with the thunderous weight of the dark spirit and his army.

Extras :3.5stars:

• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• Gag Reel
• Krampus Comes Alive!
• Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop: Krampus
• Galleries
• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Michael Dougherty and Writers Todd Casey & Zach Shields

Overall: :4stars:

“Krampus” manages to manipulate the story and the viewer with a horror movie that isn’t as much bone chillingly frightening, but rather creepy and twisted in its own way. Balancing horror and comedy in an effective manner that is reminiscent of the 80s, Michael Dougherty crafts a really fun and really disturbing tale of Anti-Christmas for all of those boys and girls out there who are thinking of giving up on the holiday. Audio is FANTASTIC, combined with great video, and once again Universal is on top of things with a relatively dense set of extras to dig into making this set a good watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Written by: Michael Dougherty, Todd Casey
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 26th 2016

Buy Krampus On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Give It a Watch

More about Mike

2,761 Posts
Thanks for the review Mike. I don't want to read it just yet to avoid spoilers but I think I will do a blind buy on this one since you gave it 4 stars and there are quite a few favorable reviews for this title.
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