Starring Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Allison Tolman
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Distributed by Universal
I regret to say, I didn’t actually get a chance to see Krampus during last year’s holiday season. I would have liked to, but unfortunately I’m a starving artist, so any opportunity for free food and lodging is met with immediate acceptance. I was sad, since this was basically a movie made for me. Hate other people? Check. Find the whole commercialized obligation to make nice with people you were unfortunate enough to be born with loathsome? Check. Love demonic sieges? Of course. Enjoy evil toys and satanic elves? Oh fuck yes!
By the time Krampus rolled around onto my ample Blu-ray to-do list, I was pretty well over it. My girlfriend had to put it in our Blu-ray player under much protest, and it took another 20 minutes of me being a whiny asshole to shut up. The holiday anti-spirit had left me, and I was expecting a stock, exploitative holiday film stuffed with positive vibes and basted in good-feelings to the point of being inedible. As I did when predicting that Trump could never be the Republican candidate, I ended up eating my words.
While I’m on the fence about how actually scary it is, Krampus is a hell of a lot of fun. That makes it sound like kind of a family film, but it really isn’t. There are already strikes against it for being a Christmas film with a positive message about togetherness (my fingers started bleeding just typing that). It’s not quite an 18+ horror film, but it is a solid 15+, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What makes the film for me is the creatively exceptional monster design from the minds of WETA Workshop. It’s pretty common nowadays that anything that can be done on a budget by a computer will be, but Krampus goes far above the bar by creating practical puppets for all of their monsters. It’s a level of care sorely missed outside of indie passion projects.
The monsters all look great, reaching an uncanny level of realism that my brain had trouble accepting. Not saying it took me out of the experience, quite the contrary. When I watched the special features and realized that they had created all of these monsters by hand, my subconscious went, “wait, holy shit, that wasn’t REAL?” It’s like in Jurassic Park, you understand that of course they didn’t use real dinosaurs, but the effect was so convincing that in the moment you think, “Yup, that T-Rex just ate the dude on the shitter. Real life stuff.”
As a film, Krampus is an effective horror/comedy that unfortunately drags. There’s a bit too much family drama for my taste, even though it’s all well written. I can’t point to a single part and say that it was bad, but the memorable moments were just a bit too spread out. It did things by the numbers in the pacing department, and I could really have used a lot more shock and awe throughout.
Still, I think you’d have to be crazy to dislike this movie. I can see people not being in love with it, but it’s monster design is excellent and plot enjoyable. The concept of a Krampus coming and making your Christmas an unpleasant ordeal is great, if not a bit smelling of pop-culture motivation. While the plot is a bit basic, the acting is solid and monster work absolutely incredible. And really, aren’t we all here just to see some cool monsters anyway?
It seems that the people in charge of the Blu-ray understand this, as most of the special features are devoted to explaining how the people over at WETA made this all come to life. Watching the experts work, witnessing their design process, and understanding how it all came together was absolutely fascinating. Special features are rarely more than text on a box, but I found these featurettes to be incredibly engaging. I felt like I was being let in on some grand industry secret. If you are interested in practical effects work, it’s a must watch.
Aside from that, there are some pretty basic cast interviews, gag reels, deleted scenes, and an alternate ending that adds absolutely nothing. It’s standard special features. There’s one particularly cringe-worthy piece where the cast talks about how funny and creative everyone else is, and I think I threw up a little when the kid made a goofy face during one of the takes. It doesn’t ruin the package, but it’ forgettable.
The most glowing praise I can give the Krampus Blu-ray package is that the special features made me watch the film again. It’s pretty rare that I want to do more work when reviewing something, but I wanted to see the monsters in action knowing what I knew. To me, that’s the perfect special feature. It renewed my interest in the film and made me appreciate it more.
As a film, I’d recommend Krampus to just about anyone, but to few people glowingly. It’s a good film bordering on great, but I can’t envision who exactly would be in love with it. Similarly, I can’t see it ruining anyone’s night. It’s a good magical adventure that you will enjoy, tell your friends was a lot of fun, and then pass over watching for movie night time and time again. As a Blu-ray, it’s worth checking out just for the special features. Whether or not that makes it worth a full purchase over a rent will be up to you.
Blu-ray and DVD Special Features:
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast – At the center of this crazed story, filled with horrifying creatures and massive set pieces, are some of the funniest and most talented actors working today. This piece shines a light on the cast of Krampus as they share their experiences making this movie.
- Galleries – Still Images from the Set
- Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Michael Dougherty and Co-Writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields
Blu-ray Exclusive Special Features:
- Krampus and His Minions – In this exclusive feature see how Krampus and his twisted underlings gave the visual-effects superstars at Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta Workshop some creative and technical challenges. Viewers will have an insider look at how Krampus and his evil minions were created and executed.
- Practical Danger – Stunt Coordinator Rodney Cook walks viewers through how the film’s thrilling stunts were done live on set while facing challenges with the creatures, children, and set design.
- Inside the Snowglobe: Production Design – Filming almost entirely on sound stages in the middle of summer in New Zealand, the art department and special effects team had to pull out all of their tricks to create sets that were realistic, ready for stunts and practical effects, all while creating the look of a winter wonderland.
- Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop: Krampus – Go behind the scenes at the world famous Weta Workshop to see how they brought the amazing creatures to life.
- Dougherty’s Vision – In this featurette director Michael Dougherty, along with the film’s cast and crew, reveals how his approach informed the tone, pacing, humor, and performances of Krampus.