Michael Dougherty’s Krampus (2015)

Michael Dougherty is hardly a household name, although there may be a few fanboys (and girls) who might recognize his name from the writing credits of the superhero films X2, and Superman Returns. To fans of contemporary Horror he is known as the creator of Sam, the little mischievous, and oft times deadly Halloween goblin from the 2007 film Trick ‘r Treat. I loved Trick ‘r Treat and have been anxiously awaiting the sequel, which was recently announced as being in the works. I then heard that he had another holiday Horror story to tell, and I was intrigued.

I became aware of the Krampus legend some years ago, and as some of you may know, I even wrote a poem about him, which may be found on this blog under Gruss vom Krampus, or just enter the name Krampus into my search engine and it will pop up; but I digress…

Poster for "Krampus" (2015).

Poster for “Krampus” (2015).

When I heard Michael Dougherty was doing a Krampus film, I was actually excited about it. Normally, I would have been a bit skeptical, but I trusted that he would do it right and with a sense of humor. Having seen it twice already, I think that I have a good enough grasp of it to say that, in many ways, he did just that. What he created is, like Trick ‘r Treat for Halloween, a fun holiday film with enough scares to keep your interest, but not so bloody that the kiddies might be able to enjoy it as well.

The story is typical holiday story fare; Max, a good boy of around 9 or 10 years, who reminded me a lot of my cousin Jason at that age, is trying to keep the holiday spirit alive despite the growing cynicism of the world around him. He is into the traditions, which he gets from his Old World German grandmother, Omi, and tries to get the rest of his family involved as well, but they are so caught up in their own respective lives they don’t seem interested in doing anything as a “family” anymore.

To make things worse, his Mom’s sister arrives with her crazy family and wingnut husband (think of a Tea Party version of Randy Quaid’s character, Eddie Johnson from the National Lampoon Vacation franchise, and you’ll get the picture) and they turn his already troubled world into total chaos. In frustration, he tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out of his window onto the wintry winds which carry it away into the night.

The following day, the whole neighborhood is deserted and Max’s family is snowed in. The family are simply annoyed by the inconvenience but Omi fears the worst. After people start disappearing, she tells her tale of woe from when, as a little girl,  she was visited by the Krampus. Her tale is depicted in an animated sequence which is an interesting switch up, sort of like O-Ren Ishii’s story in the Kill Bill Part 1.

I won’t say anything else so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but suffice to say that it does get a little hairy in spots, although never really gory, and always with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Over all, I really enjoyed it, and my only complaint was that Dougherty’s Krampus really didn’t look nor behave anything like the traditional Krampus of the Alpine tradition. also, as my friend Sylvia (who saw the film with me on my second round) pointed out: Krampus had way too many helpers. After a while it became tiresome when yet another threat would arrive at the family’s door; I would have been happy with the gingerbread men and maybe the creepy clown thing.

Even so, it was a good time and when it becomes available for home video (in whatever format that will take shape in by then) I will pick it up for my holiday viewing alongside A Christmas Carol, The Hogfather, and the numerous animated specials from my youth.

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One Response to “Michael Dougherty’s Krampus (2015)”

  1. Great post! You should check out my Krampus parody! Happy Holidays!-Meep 🙂

    https://valsvougexo.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/what-to-do-when-krampus-comes-to-town/

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