Krampus Blu-ray review

The malls are crowded, the houses are decorated, the kids are screaming on Santa’s lap. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, all right.

Every year, the Engel clan gathers to celebrate with their family. It’s one of many traditions they have, along with wrapping presents together and watching Charlie Brown. But it’s all a little off this year: patriarch Tom (Adam Scott, SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE) is hiding with a stiff drink, mother Sarah (Toni Collette, MISS YOU ALREADY) is dreading the company, daughter Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen, The CW’s THE CARRIE DIARIES) would rather be with her boyfriend and the in-laws are a bunch of vulgar hicks. Only Max (Emjay Anthony, THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT) is in the spirit.

Krampus

But after too much time being heckled for believing in Santa and sitting at a table full of miserable family members, Max rips up his letter addressed to the North Pole, apparently causing a snowstorm and power outage. Oh, yeah, and unleashing Krampus, described by the quiet grandmother as “the shadow of Saint Nicholas.” Traditional images of Krampus depict him as black, hairy, horned and hoofed—not exactly the sort of character who would turn up in an M&M commercial.

There have been a few movies with Santa—or at least someone dressed as Santa—as the bad guy (SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and CHRISTMAS EVIL come to mind), but so few featuring the folklore figure of Krampus, known for punishing those who don’t believe. With KRAMPUS, he gets the spotlight he may have had coming.

Krampus

Director Michael Dougherty previously delivered a stellar holiday-themed horror entry with 2007’s anthology film TRICK ‘R TREAT. With KRAMPUS, he also takes holiday traditions and twists them for the benefit of scares. This time, though, the scares don’t come with blood, gore or feats of disturbing images (think the carving scene in ‘The Principal’ portion of TRICK ‘R TREAT). Instead, they come from dark lighting, well-timed sound effects and, um, killer toys. Indeed, the blood and gore is kept to a minimum, all because it was decided KRAMPUS should be PG-13. This significantly hurts the movie, which could have been much more fun had Krampus been allowed to grab non-believers and bite their heads off in front of their parents.

Krampus

This is much of what makes KRAMPUS a bit of a letdown. There is a sinister atmosphere in many scenes that serves the movie well, but the mood is easily snapped whenever any of the tamer or sillier elements (a vicious jack-in-the-box? a demented teddy bear?) pop up. And when they do, it brings up yet another significant flaw: it’s clear that the audience is supposed to be laughing at points, but too often it’s unclear what’s meant to be funny.

Krampus

KRAMPUS makes a solid attempt to widen the titular character’s appeal, but never quite establishes a steady tone. By the time the cowardly end rolls out, this horror-comedy hybrid proves to be unsure, uneven and ultimately disappointing.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong and the black levels are deep once the horror elements kick in, adding to the atmosphere.

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish DTS 5.1; French DTS 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Dialogue is clear, the score is effective and the SFX contribute greatly to the carnage going on in the neighborhood and inside the house.

Feature commentary with director/co-writer Michael Dougherty and co-writers Todd Casey & Zach Shields: The trio offers a strong track which delves into the origins, style, technical aspects and more of KRAMPUS. Fans will enjoy.

KRAMPUS Comes Alive! (29:36) is divided into five featurettes, which look at the inspirations, characters/cast, the villains, stunt work and production design of KRAMPUS. They are: “Dougherty’s Vision,” “The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast,” “Krampus and the His Minions,” “Practical Danger” and “Inside the Snowglobe: Production Design.”

Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop (9:54): The look of KRAMPUS is put under the spotlight, with focus on the contributions of the New Zealand-based Weta Workshop, best known for their work on Peter Jackson’s films.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (17:41): There are eight here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Family Photos,” “Checking In,” “Bump in the Night,” “Emergency Warning,” “Beth Search,” “Are You Jealous?” “Squirrels” and “Doesn’t Add Up.”

 Alternate Ending (1:24)

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