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Krampus Blu-ray Review

Written by Steve Pattee

Blu-ray released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

  Krampus Poster

Directed by Michael Dougherty
Written by Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields
2015, 98 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on April 26th, 2016

Adam Scott as Tom
Toni Collette as Sarah
David Koechner as Howard
Allison Tolman as Linda
Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy
Emjay Anthony as Max
Stefania LaVie Owen as Sarah
Krista Stadler as Omi

  Krampus 01  Krampus 02


Young Max's Christmas holiday is starting off quite badly. He gets in a fight in the mall with another kid, and part of his punishment is to wrap Christmas gifts by himself (which sucks for him because it's a tradition to do that with his folks while watching Charlie Brown Christmas). To make matters worse, his mother's sister and family are coming to spend the holidays with them. Think Cousin Eddie and his family from National Lampoon's Vacation, but not as quite white trashy. After his cousin embarrasses Max (and the rest of the family because of what's on it) by reading his letter to Santa at the dinner table, he reacts in a fit of rage by exclaiming his hatred for Christmas before storming up to his room. Now, this is something that at least one person in my family shouts over the holidays, but this is Movieville, and the boy's expulsion of those particular words invites Santa's bizarro doppelganger, Krampus. And this guy delivers fear and pain instead of joy and cheer.

I loved Trick 'r Treat the moment I first saw it, and it quickly became not just a mandatory staple of my October viewing, but a film I watch on occasion just for the hell of it. It's a great anthology with fantastic acting, gorgeous set design and a terrific little antagonist in the wraparound. Hell, the movie would be perfect if we never saw the true face of said antagonist. When I heard that Michael Dougherty, the writer and director of that glorious anthology, was tackling a Christmas horror centering on Krampus next, I was both excited and leery. He busted through the gates so strongly with his first full-length feature in Trick 'r Treat, could he keep that momentum with his sophomore effort, Krampus? Well, for the most part, yes. Yes, he does.

With Krampus, Dougherty has done a wonderful job seamlessly mixing a variety of genres. So much so, if I were asked to narrow it down to just one genre, I couldn't. For example, if my back is to the wall, I'd say Shaun of the Dead is a comedy with horror elements; the same goes for Tucker and Dale vs Evil. On the other hand, I'd say Evil Dead 2 is a horror film with comedic elements. But Krampus? It's funny at times, scary at times, and it even manages to be a sweet holiday film at times. Not often, but that vibe is certainly there. There are legitimate laugh-out-loud moments going on in Krampus just as there are legitimately terrifying moments, and that's quite the feat from a guy with just one other feature-length film to his name.

  Krampus 03  Krampus 04

Of course it doesn't hurt that there's an impressive cast delivering the lines, many of whom have starred both in comedy and horror pieces. Adam Scott (Parks and Rec, Piranha 3D) and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, The Sixth Sense) take the roles of Tom and Sarah, the more-or-less typical parents of Max (Emjay Anthony) and Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen). The reluctantly welcomed black sheep family members consist of dad Howard (David Koechner - Anchorman, Final Destination 5), mom Linda (Allison Tolman - TV's Fargo), and kids Howie, Jr. (Maverick Flack), Stevie (Lolo Owen), and Jordon (Queenie Samuel). Throw in Omi (Krista Stadler), who knows a thing or two about Krampus, and Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men), who knows a thing or two about drinking, and you have a rock-solid cast that does nothing but make the film even more enjoyable than it already is. Honestly, there is not one standout here; even the children hold their own against the far more experienced cast they are sharing the screen with.

What's most interesting about the characters in Krampus is that while on the surface they look like your stereotypical families (one side being white bread Democrats, the other being rootin' tootin' Republicans), they are actually three dimensional. While he's clearly not member of the NRA, nor will he ever be, Tom has no problem picking up a weapon to defend his family. And even though he comes across as a right wing nut, Howard is actually a really caring guy who acknowledges when he's been bested without it coming across phony. Sarah and Linda are quite believable as sisters who took different roads in life, but at the end of the day still care very much for one another without being overly sappy. Heck, even Aunt Dorothy has her moments that suggest she's more than just that cranky family member that no one wants around, but you kind of have to because...blood relative. And the cousins get on as much as can be expected for families that only see each other once a year.

The title character himself is quite a treat. When you first see him on the roof of a home, it is absolutely terrifying. When you finally see his face reveal, it definitely is a creepy moment, made more so that it's not really his face at all (something covered in the commentary). Like Santa, Krampus has his own elves, but I'm pretty sure these cats aren't making any toys because I'm under the impression they are too busy destroying lives. And while a few of my friends took issue with the gingerbread men running rampant in the house, they can suck it. Those little sugary treats made me laugh.

Overall, Krampus is a great movie, and like Trick 'r Treat, this one is going to not just go into my Christmas horrors rotation, but a one-off now and again as well. There's a lot to like here, and while I'm not quite sold on its ending, it's not enough to rip any enjoyment from everything that came prior to it. If you are looking for a new film when you just don't feel like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Christmas Evil, Krampus will easily fit that bill. And if you are looking to watch something that is a tremendous amount of fun and brings laughs, chills, and feels, Krampus will do that for you too.

  Krampus 05  Krampus 06

Video and Audio:

Look, this movie was filmed last year and it damn well better look good, and it does. It's important to note that some of the film takes place outside, in the evening, during a snow storm, and it looks great. Plus there is some impressive fine detail going on throughout.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is spectacular. I was happy that my sub got a nice workout, but what really pleased me is the sheer amount of attention paid to the surrounds. There is a log going on in this film, and it all doesn't come through just the front speakers. The soundtrack really ramps the fun up a notch.

  Krampus 07  Krampus 08

Special Features:

  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Galleries
  • Feature Commentary with Filmmakers
  • Krampus Comes Alive!
    • Doughery's Vision
    • The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast
    • Krampus and His Minions
    • Practical Danger
    • Inside the Snowglobe: Production Design
  • Behind the Scenes at WETA Workshop: Krampus

An alternate ending (1:25) is the first of the special features and is slightly different than the one used in the final film. I prefer what was used, as it leaves the movie open for more conversation.

14 deleted scenes are offered and when played together come in at over 17 minutes. I enjoyed watching them since I had so much fun with the movie, but I can also see why they were left on the cutting room floor. They don't really offer much to the overall product, and the movie runs leaner without them.

The gag reel (5:15) isn't anything you haven't seen before, but it's better than most. That's probably because of the comedic talent involved, me being biased, or a little of both. Probably a little of both.

Krampus Comes Alive! is a five-part featurette that covers that runs over 29 minutes when all parts are played at once. The featurettes cover a brief history of Krampus, cast and character profiles, a look at Krampus and his helpers, practical and visual effects, and production design. In essence it's one big EPK, but some of the behind-the-scenes shots found in it make it an enjoyable watch. You think you'll want to skip the chapter, The Naughy Ones: Meet the Cast because it's about everything you expect when you watch a piece about actors talking about their characters, but I recommend you sit through it because some of the outtakes are laugh-out-loud funny.

If the title Behind the Scenes at WETA Workshop: Krampus (9:54) isn't self-explanatory, the featurette focuses on the team that did the practical effects for Krampus. It always pleases me when these unsung heroes got the spotlight put on them.

The commentary with director/co-writer Michael Dougherty and co-writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields is nothing short of fantastic and a must listen for fans of the film. They provide a lot of behind-the-scenes tidbits in a very laidback and at-times hilarious discussion.

Rounding it out are galleries of the art for the poster, creature, story, and Michael Dougherty Xmas cards, as well as storyboards.

  Krampus 09  Krampus 10


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Overall: 4.5 Star Rating


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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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