What happens to naughty kids at Christmas
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