For as long as human beings have gathered into social groups there have been storytellers among them. A natural result of this is that every culture has their own folklore and mythology and down from one generation to the next. One thing that is universally found all such stories is the balance between good and evil; every hero there is a corresponding villain. This is true for even such universal symbols of goodness as Santa Claus, the bestowed of gifts to the children around the world during your local celebration of the winter solstice. Although not quite as amiable for commercialization is his corresponding darker reflection, the Krampus. Traditionally this creature derives from dramatic folklore is usually described as half goat half demon whose purpose is primarily to punish the naughty children of the community. There have been a number of horror films have rebranded Santa Claus as a monstrously evil being so it seems only equitable that some filmmakers hoping to specialize in horror movies to turn your attention to aspect of the season that already has been demonized. Under consideration here is the most recent horror flick where the Krampus is allowed to take center stage. Many in the audience might find interesting is that the director and co-author of the screenplay, Michael Dougherty has an extremely interesting resume. Although not lengthy he is responsible for two major comic book based films, ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘X-Men 2’. He is also the author of these scriptural one of the most anticipated additions to the Marvel drink sensation, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’. Joining him in providing the script is a veteran of many of the animated series for both Marvel and DC universes, Todd Casey. This does make for a better than average offering for the seasonally specific horror franchises.
A fairly sizable suburban family decides to have a winter reunion targeted for December 22nd. To participate in the festivities are Tom (Adam Scott), his wife Sarah (Toni Collette), their children; teenager Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and her younger brother, Max (Emjay Anthony). Also included are Sarah’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman) and her husband Howard (David Koechner and avid gun owner) accompanied by their children Stevie (Lolo Owen), Jordan (Queenie Samuel), Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack), and their baby daughter; Sarah and Linda’s frequently inebriated aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell); and Tom’s Austrian mother, who is affectionately referred to as "Omi" (Krista Stadler). The entire group matches the most adamant with continuing the family holiday traditions with the various deep-seated animosities that cause several rifts within the familiar fabric. This lack of holiday spirit that permeates most of the group is greatly exacerbated when the area is struck by a severe blizzard which knocks out the local power grid leaving the family members in the mood suitable state of darkness.
Beth becomes worried about her stoner boyfriend making a decision that can only makes even a modicum of sense within the context of a horror film; she decides to venture out into the storm to check in on him. Despite the incumbent registry manages to make it to his home. Once there she is chased by a strange creature. Upon investigation of the home discovers that the chimney has been split open and that there are strange prints surrounding the house. Certain that something must be lurking outside the family proceeds to board up the windows and doors despite the fact that Beth is somewhere out there which is a great concern to Sarah promises are made search for a daughter in the morning. Making such a promise and horror movie is to such statements as "I’m taking a shower", "look in the basement" or "I thought I heard a sound, I’ll check outside". You just know that the supernatural manifestation of evil is waiting just out of camera range awaiting such a queue. Now comes the time for the eldest among the group to elucidate the members of her family on the existence of the pertinent ancient evil. Omi becomes the center of attention as she begins to inform the family as to exactly what they are facing, The Krampus referring to him as the ‘Shadow of Saint Nicholas’. The oldest matriarch of the family personalizes the story with her own account. When she was young family was forced to endure extreme poverty resulting in a losing faith in delete holiday cheer. This disbelief of the goodness of the holiday season was all that was necessary to summon the Krampus. She alone was spared by the creature left trinket engraved with his name as a reminder of what happened that night. This marks the beginning of the second act with the attacks upon the family members become increasingly more savage. With his family eventually completely abducted by the Krampus is up to the one stalwart supporter of holiday traditions, Max, depleted the Krampus safe return of his family.
This variation of the Krampus legend does continue to provide the dark reflection of some of the most well-known aspects of Santa Claus. Replacing the ever cheerful and industrious elves the Krampus has holiday style minions of his own which include monstrous gingerbread men and creatures with the face of porcelain dolls that possess a decidedly homicidal tendencies. Despite the potential for truly nightmarish Christmases for many children the movie has been rated by the MPAA as PG-13 conveying a strong warning to the parents. The script comes across as a story that truly frightening but is forced to be pruned back its horror quotient in order to get such a more family-friendly and ultimately lucrative rating. Overall the film does have a solidly original framework upon which the screenwriters have constructed a reasonable intriguing story. This is an example of a film that would definitely benefit by having a director’s edition on uncensored special edition. As it is it sits in limbo on the outskirts of pulling his potential as a truly frightening vehicle of ancient folklore. The Krampus is supposed to be a nightmarish other side of the coin of children who dream of sugarplums and brand-new toys. It is very difficult for filmmaker to emulate a true nightmare. In the form that is released here it does succeed as a film creepy enough for a stormy night tickly in late December as an alternative for the all the overly done traditional animated Christmas movies. If the children are in bed and you’re tired of watching late Burl Ives as an animated snowman in this movie would definitely be realistic alternative. What I enjoyed most about the movie was its ability to refrain from taking itself too seriously. What I enjoyed most about this movie is how the director was able to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to the frequently dark humor that pervades the entire story. It is difficult to really scare devoted horror fan particularly when constrained by the necessity to come up with a final edition that would warrant a soft enough rating to market is more of a family film.