Sunday, October 9, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: Krampus

2015, Michael Dougherty (Trick 'r Treat) -- download

We saw Dougherty's first go at a feature back in 2011. This one did what the previous movie (Tales of Halloween) tried to, but much better. This time he joins the collective (un)consciousness and the emergence of Krampus fascination. Krampus, that evil Christmas spirit from Eastern Europe, who looks like a Victorian version of a GWAR band member, crept into our Western minds a few years ago just begging to be made into a movie. I think the best movie is probably Rare Exports which ties him and Santa closer together, and BTW which we also saw back in 2011, but as part of the Xmas run. Dougherty's movie is one of the two of late, as well as a handful of Straight To flicks.

The Horrible Family Xmas is the heart of this movie, which is billed as horror comedy, but really is not very funny. Toni Collete and Adam Scott are the well-to-do side of the family and her sister's redneck family are the unfortunate seasonal visitors. Little Max just wants a perfect family Xmas, but the gun toting, humvee driving bumpkins drive him to angry recriminations and the destruction of his beloved Letter to Santa. So, instead, Krampus and his crew of evil unseelie Fey show up.

In an incredibly out of place but lovely animated bit, Grandma explains how Krampus shows up to destroy families where sacrifice and giving are forgotten at this time of the year. He must only come to those who have some connection to him, as she did, for I can imagine half of North America being laid waste (ed note: sounds like a great PoAp movie!) but instead only their neighbourhood is attacked. And devastated. Krampus arrives at the onset of a massive blizzard and cold spell that knocks the power & phones offline. He makes himself known almost immediately and the family have to pull together to fight off his evil minions: gingerbread men, nasty toys and a very alien jack-in-the-box that eats kids. They are not always successful. And the rest of the neighbourhood seems to be entirely lost as collateral damage.

This is a fun movie, not entirely serious but never done as straight comedy. The toys and elves are creepy as fuck, and the movie design team really had their heart in it. Krampus himself is not really at the centre of the movie, but he is so well designed, a sort of demon wearing the twisted guise of Santa. Its like an Ogre decided to get in the toy sack business. The movie ran well, with us expecting a "its only a dream" or "kid sacrifices himself to save his family" ending, but we got something rather unexpected. And unfortunately, not very satisfying from my side.