I have to be honest. This movie's release has wonderful timing, considering it premiered on the most wonderful time of the year. It's refreshing to watch a horror movie amidst all the Christmas cheer. Â
It even comes with a social commentary on the Christmas
season.Â As the opening credits play, we
see a typical BlackÂ Friday scene at the
mall: a swarm of customers storming through the doors, knocking down the staff
who are in their way and beating up other customers over holiday items. This
all unfolds to the tune of, ironically, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the
The story centers on the home of a dysfunctional family during the holidays. Max is one of those kids who still like to believe in Christmas traditions, even if it means putting up with his annoying relatives every year. But this time, when his two cousins stole his letter to Santa Claus and read it out loud over dinner, things had gone too far. As a disillusioned Max tears up his letter and wishes for his family to go away, he accidentally unleashes an ancient legend.
Krampus is an actual character from European folklore, a
demonic goat-like creature that
punishes bad people during the Christmas season. In other words, he's the
complete opposite of Saint Nicholas. 'Ole Nick gives, Krampus takes. And in this movie, he has a team
of toy monsters who help him do the deed: the gingerbread men, a group of creepy elves, a teddy bear straight out
of Five Nights at Freddy's, and a large, toothy jack-in-the-box.
Krampus doesn't make an appearance until late in the first act. It feels like a comedy film at first, a funny tale about a family who has forgotten the holiday spirit. It could work in itself, since most of the cast have a background in comedy. But the humor doesn't last long of course. When Krampus finally arrives, the movie shifts its tone.
As a horror movie, Krampus entertains more than it scares, to the point where it borders on being campy. But that's a good thing! It has a similar charm to that of Director Michael Dougherty's previous horror flick, Trick 'r Treat, with enough dark humor and creep factor to satisfy those seeking something other than the cheerful holiday yada yada. The minions do most of the work in terms of jump scares and unleashing hell on the poor family. But whenever Krampus takes the spotlight, I'm pretty sure the whole theater fills with dread. It's like his presence onscreen makes the cinema darker than it already is.
If you're not in a Christmas-y mood just yet, you may want to give Krampus a try. A spooky film this holiday season might make your day.