Krampus (2015)

We Wish You A Malicious Christmas

Director: Michael Dougherty
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Starring: Emjay Anthony, Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell

Considering the majority of Christmas releases tend to be syrupy affairs delivering heavy handed messages, it's completely refreshing to see a festive film willing to bare it's teeth.

After clashing with his dysfunctional family, Max (Emjay Anthony) becomes disenchanted, losing his Christmas spirit. Unbeknownst to him, this act summons Krampus, a demonic force prepared to unleash its wrath on non-believers, and all who stand in its way.

With only his second feature film, Michael Dougherty clearly handles both the horror and comedy genres in a confident manner. The result is a wonderful blending of genres, with a seamless integration of the Christmas season, and not just the good moments. The opening is a great modern satire, showing chaos in a department store, while "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams  plays. Yet it manages to contain a relevant message, about keeping in the Christmas spirit, and how this can mean enjoying time spent with your loved ones.

The work put into designing Krampus' minions, as well as bringing them to life, are great to behold. Even if it's apparent the Gingerbread men are computer generated, they'll stay in your mind long after the film's finished, but the titular creature is the cream of the crop. An unstoppable force that knows who it wants to punish, and won't bat a demonic eyelid at any additional casualties. Boasting an impressive design that backs up the creature's terror, chills are sent through even the smallest of glimpses.

The cast are on top form. Emjay Anthony does the best work as Max, the child who wants to spend time with his family, engaging in the traditions and activities they used to do every year. Adam Scott and Toni Collette do great work as the parents, dealing with spending time with their dysfunctional family, while David Koechner is the wacky uncle, willing to protect his family. The writing effectively takes characters who are initially irritating, making them into a likeable and relatable family by the films end.

After a promising debut with Halloween based horror Trick 'r Treat, Michael Dougherty follows it up with another holiday based horror, with great results. Perhaps he can follow up Trick 'r Treat 2 with a Thanksgiving based horror we sorely need? Regardless, Krampus delivers a seamless blend of horror, comedy and festive cheer, all while containing a relevant message. For those wanting a Christmas film with bite, Krampus is ready to be viewed alongside Gremlins and Rare Exports.