What hap­pens to naughty kids at Christ­mas

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

KRAM­PUS ★★★ Di­rected by Michael Dougherty. Star­ring Adam Scott, Toni Col­lette, David Koech­ner, Al­li­son Tol­man, Con­chata Fer­rell, Em­jay An­thony, Ste­fa­nia LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler. Cert 15A, gen release, 98mins

The anti-Santa on an Oedi­pal killing spree in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). The soror­ity house slash­ings of Black Christ­mas (1974). The evil elf army of Rare Ex­ports (2010). Who doesn’t love a Christ­mas hor­ror?

And to this happy de­mented sub-genre we wel­come Kram­pus, a film that seeks to re­con­nect the Christ­mas hor­ror to its mytho­log­i­cal Ger­manic roots. Kram­pus, the horned, cloven-footed mon­ster, can – ac­cord­ing to Alpine leg­end – be de­pended upon to pun­ish wicked chil­dren with birch­ing, ter­ri­fy­ingly in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual over­tones and (prob­a­bly) X-Box theft over the fes­tive pe­riod.

In Trick ’r Treat di­rec­tor Dougherty’s new film there are many er­rant youths in need of a birch­ing. In­deed, when a gas-guz­zling RV pulls into the drive­way of a pic­ture-per­fect home be­long­ing to Adam Scott and Toni Co­lette, it car­ries any num­ber of naughty chil­dren.

And the white-trash par­ents (Koech­ner and Tol­man) are not any bet­ter be­haved than their nu­mer­ous off­spring.

Still, kind-hearted Max (Em­jay An­thony), with a lit­tle nudg­ing from his Bavar­ian grandma (Krista Stadler) still longs for fa­mil­ial har­mony and the Char­lie Brown Christ­mas Spe­cial. Un­til his bul­ly­ing cousins prompt him to tear up his let­ter to Santa and throw it to­ward the moon: cue a very Kram­pus hol­i­day.

At its best, the en­su­ing may­hem re­sem­bles Joe Dante’s peer­less Grem­lins. Too of­ten, how­ever, Kram­pus gets bogged down in fam­ily pyscho-drama.

There are al­to­gether too many char­ac­ters, even for a film that ruth­lessly picks them off, some­times in swathes, and too much down­time be­tween “dis­ap­pear­ances”.

It’s fun. Usu­ally. With a su­per cast. But it’s no Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.

Fam­ily psy­cho-drama: Adam Scott in Kram­pus

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