Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Out Now - Krampus

Now this is a film I went into with high hopes after seeing director/writer Michael Dougherty's previous feature film Trick 'r Treat for the first time earlier this year and falling absolutely in love with it. So when I heard his second film was to be based on the legendary character Krampus I knew I had to see it as soon as I could.

The plot follow's a family as they get together for Christmas, but it is a less than fun arrangement as young Max (Emjay Anthony) and his sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owee) don’t get on with his cousins; twins Stevie and Jordan (Lolo Owen and Queenie Samuel) and Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack). While their parents Tom and Sarah (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) seem to have a rocky relationship with their aunt Linda (Allison Tolman) and uncle Howard (David Koechner) as well. At dinner Stevie and Jordan steal his letter to Santa and read it aloud, leading to a fight and Max storming off, though his dad tries to comfort him he rips up his letter and throws it out his window. This act seems to bring on a massive snowstorm that cuts power to the entire town. From here we follow the family as they try to survive the snowstorm and eventually the coming of Krampus and his minions.

At first I was somewhat worried, when the aunt and uncles family arrived as I thought I would hate these people, the father Howard was a gun nut survivalist, his twin daughters super bullies and so on, and while maybe not so much for his kids the script and actors did a good job making sure the adults weren’t just one note characters, sisters Sarah and Linda have some great scenes where they reminisce about the past while Tom and Howard start to gain some respect for each other and even start to like each other, or at least dislike each other less, and all these interactions feel genuine. It is hard to say who my favourite character is, I was very fond of Omi (the german word for grandmother) Max's grandmother and Tom's mother played by Krista Stadler, but in the end I think I have to go with Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell) who is wonderfully blunt, abrasive and drunk, and kind of a bad ass when she gets her turn and is probably the funniest character in the film.

Another highlight of the film is the monsters, from the trailers you'll have seen the living gingerbread men but they are just the first of what is a number of demented Christmas themed creatures. It is also fantastic to see that, with the exception of the gingerbread men, the monsters are practical and I have to applaud the prop department and puppeteers that brought these creatures to life. And though I always choose practical over CGI I have to say the gingerbread men were cute as hell and looked great, there is also a CG animated sequence mind way through the film where Omi tell us what she knows about Krampus and it is wonderful with a heavily stylised aesthetic.

I also have to mention the great opening scene where we see a Black Friday like shopping spree with people pushing each other and fighting, shop employees hiding up ladders to avoid the onslaught of ravenous customers and even some been taken down by security and tasered, all in beautifully shot slow-motion to the sound of Bing Crosby's 'It Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas'. It's fantastic to say the least, in fact the whole film looks good, Dougherty is really developing his own style through his films and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

I honestly can't recommend this one enough, the film is scary, funny and pure enjoyment from start to finish, it's up there with Gremlins as a great Christmas horror comedy and one I'm sure I'll revisit every year.

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