Release Date: November, 30th 2015 (Los Angeles Premiere)
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Written by: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Based on: the character of Krampus from Germanic folklore
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler
Legendary Pictures, Zam Pictures, Universal Pictures, 98 Minutes
I was pretty enthused when I first heard of this holiday themed horror film, as it was being made by Michael Dougherty, the creator and director of the Halloween themed horror anthology film Trick ‘r Treat.
Essentially, this film plays like a companion piece to Trick ‘r Treat but suffers from having a PG-13 rating. Trick ‘r Treat was an R-rated film and thus had a good amount of gore and horror violence. Krampus certainly went further outside of the PG-13 realm than I anticipated, as it did show bad things happening to actual kids. However, most of the bad stuff is implied here, as opposed to unfolding visually on the screen.
Also, the rating made the film predictable. Reason being, as soon as I saw bad things happening to children, I knew that somehow it would all be undone. What felt like real risks being taken by the film ended up being temporary and the movie played it safe. Maybe that’s the studio’s fault. Maybe they didn’t want to go too far because it is still a Christmas themed film and the message was about never letting go of the Christmas spirit. While that’s nice and all, I could just go watch It’s A Wonderful Life or a hundred other movies that already tackled the subject.
Now I don’t want to paint this film in too much of a negative light. I’m hoping the home video release comes with an unrated version. That would certainly be ideal for horror purists and those of us who liked Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat.
All in all, it was still a really good movie with a good cast. Adam Scott, David Koechner and Toni Collette gave the film some credibility. It wasn’t a forgettable horror picture with unknowns.
Dougherty’s visual style is also solid and works well at being scary and fantastical. The character design of Krampus and his many minions was pretty cool and imaginative. It reminded me of early Tim Burton work – before his style became more of an unintentional parody of itself. My only complaint visually, is that sometimes Dougherty tends to rely on CGI in places were practical effects would serve the purpose better.
Krampus is enjoyable. It is fun as hell, especially when the shit really hits the fan. It is bizarre, crazy and a bit insane. Now, if it just wasn’t PG-13 and concerned with playing it safe, we may have had a true classic.
Besides, Gremlins was a Christmas horror classic that showed violence and murder and it was rated PG! And that was in 1984! I saw it in the theater when I was five and I walked away just fine. Hell, I had the Happy Meal toys!