Magazine article Variety

Krampus

Magazine article Variety

Krampus

Article excerpt

Krampus

DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty

STARRING: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He's got horns, hooves and an army of sinister elves, and his name sounds like a bad case of abdominal bloat. He is Krampus, the evil, twisted "shadow" of Santa Claus, and he has plenty of pain and destruction to rain down on one unlucky family that's lost the Christmas spirit in this divertingly spooky lump of cinematic coal. Directed by Michael Dougherty with the same eye for lovingly detailed genre re-creation that shaped his 2009 indie-horror anthology, "Trick 'r Treat" (with 1984's "Gremlins" as the obvious touchstone here), "Krampus" isn't especially scary, but it generates goodwill nonetheless for treating its home-invasion-for-the-holidays setup with an appreciably straight face. While yuletide horror movies haven't set the box office on fire in recent years ("Black Christmas," anyone?), Universal's Dec. 4 release should enable word-of-mouth interest to build a steady winter following en route to home-format haunts.

Sensitive preteen Max (Emjay Anthony, "Chef") is in for one lousy Christmas, from the moment his aunt Linda (Allison Tolman) and oafish uncle Howard (David Koechner) turn up on his doorstep with their tubby young hellspawn in tow. Even worse, they've brought along their miserable old aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), who immediately starts complaining about the food and decor, to the chagrin of Max's already stressed-out parents, Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette). It doesn't take long for tensions to flare on all sides and send Max running to his room, where, convinced that Christmas is ruined, he proceeds to rip up and throw away his handwritten letter to Santa.

Big mistake. A freak blizzard immediately sets in over the neighborhood. Vaguely menacing-looking snowmen pop up in the yard, a delivery man turns up with some mysterious packages, and when Max's older sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), decides to head over to visit her boyfriend, she never returns. …

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