By Anthony Wetmore
Michael Dougherty, best known as the writer and director of the instant classic Halloween anthology Trick r’ Treat is at the helm again for Krampus, a twisted Christmas tale.
Krampus seeks to take on an ancient myth from German folklore and present it in a way only Dougherty knows how.
A young boy named Max, as played by the charismatic Emjay Anthony, is in the throes of a chaotic Christmas visit from his rather obnoxious extended family (played by David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell) as well as clinging to his belief in Santa, which is snuffed out swiftly, bringing the unexpected peril of a different sort of Christmas tradition.
Dougherty presents the loss of faith with the shreds of a letter and the swelling of dark clouds that fires off mysterious and uneasy events.
Tom and Sarah (Adam Scott, Toni Collette) are quickly distressed, but Max’s German Grandmother, Omi (Krista Stadler), is wiser, however tight-lipped. As we journey into the holiday colored darkness with the family, we are privy to, without spoiling too much, tangents of all sorts that show Dougherty’s skill for mixing mediums.
Though the story trots out awkwardly in pieces in the first third, by the time we reach the apex of action, we are all wrapped up in the warped albeit vague mythos finally clarified by Omi.
Krampus is a clear display of the charms we have come to expect from the skilled direction and storytelling found in the highly regarded Trick ‘r Treat.
One of Krampus’ big strengths is its use of practical effects with some really twisted creations including some sinister snowmen, a snappy jack-in-the-box and some creepy little helpers.
Overall, Krampus delivers something for everyone and is sure to become a staple for those of us who prefer their Christmas stories with a darker shade of red. Dougherty masterfully blends ancient folklore and a comforting homage yet again to the strangely warm and chilling films of the 1980s.