‘Krampus’ Review

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Director: Michael Dougherty

Writers: Michael Dougherty, Todd Casey and Zach Shields

Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Maverick Flack, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, and Krista Stadler

Synopsis: A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I became a fan of Michael Dougherty when I saw his great Halloween film Trick ‘r Treat. The film was funny, suspenseful and had some great moments of horror, but more importantly, it was a hell of a lot of fun. So like many, I was looking forward to him getting back behind the camera and what better way to get back behind the camera with another holiday-themed horror film. While Krampus isn’t as good as Trick ‘r Treat, Dougherty still keeps the same intense but fun holiday horror.

Krampus follows the Engel family: the somewhat down-to-earth dad Tom (Scott), trying to stay sane mom Sarah (Collette), typical teenager daughter Beth (Lavie Owen), youthful and holiday loving Max (Anthony), and Tom’s mother or as she’s called by Max, Omi (Stadler) who only speaks in German. They are joined by Sarah’s sister, Linda (Tolman) and her family of her loud and obnoxious husband Howard (Koechner), their bratty daughters Stevie (Owen) and Jordan (Samuel), son Howie (Flack), baby Chrissy and has no filter, Aunt Dorothy (Ferrell). They all come together a few days before Christmas to be together, and while the first night doesn’t go over to well – including Max’s letter to Santa being read aloud – family bickering is the least of the Engel family’s problems: the evil spirit of Krampus – the opposite of Santa Claus – has been unleashed and has made them his target.

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For those unfamiliar, Krampus is actually based on a legend/folklore. There are many interpretations of Krampus, but most agree on the same thing: he’s a villainous, horned creature that punishes children at Christmastime for being naughty. The Krampus in Krampus like that as well, but instead of just going after the children he also targets the grown-ups, whether it be himself or using his fiendish helpers that include demonic toys.

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Thankfully, Krampus himself – and the film – isn’t completely CGI. With the expectation of a handful of scenes – one of which is a fantastic scene that takes place in the kitchen– Krampus is all practical effects and puppetry. Which is a nice touch because it makes the creatures, visually, feel more real and extra terrifying once everything goes to hell. Again, if you saw Trick ‘r Treat, Dougherty different and unique style is inject here which gives Krampus some much needed fun and humor. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely works here.

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I thing I applaud Dougherty for doing is making the film more than just a horror film. It’s a dysfunctional family film too. Krampus is a slow burn film, that does get a bit sluggish at times, but before all the horror elements start, we get to know the family, and yes, even get to hate a few waiting for them to get picked off. But, what Dougherty and the other writers in Todd Casey and Zach Shields do is give them each a different personality from each other that makes us still, somewhat, root for them. Krampus could have worked as a straightforward horror film, but it’s the extra bit of humanity and the family story that gives the film that extra bit of levity and makes it just a bit better. The other part that makes Krampus works is the comedy.

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Veteran comedic actors Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell bring their A-game to the sharp and witted script and really deliver on not just their comedic lines, but their more dramatic lines too. The kid actors also fare pretty well with Emjay Anthony’s Max getting most of the screen time and focus. Finally, Krista Stadler’s Omi is definitely a highlight in the film. She doesn’t speak too much, but when she does you know it means something and is also part of one of the coolest part of the film as well, which I won’t spoil or hint at.

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All in all, Krampus is a lot of fun. It’s got humor, suspense, horror, and a good dysfunctional family story that is served well by its great cast. It’s also filled with awesome looking and much needed practical effects and creatures that levitate the film to a much better place. While it’s not on the same level as Dougherty last film Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus is well worth your time and a nice holiday-themed horror film.

 

Krampus

4 out of 5

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November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month, ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

4th

Limited Release: Brooklyn

The film is set in the 1950s in Ireland and New York as young Eilis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis Lacey while Domhnall Gleeson plays the Ireland man and Emory Cohen plays the New York Italian man. The film looks like a nice period romance drama story. I’ve heard some good rumblings from the festival circuit, so hopefully this finds its audience.

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6th

Limited Release: Trumbo

The film tells the story of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood and government in the 1940s for being a Communist. Of course, this was all going on during the Cold War and a lot of people in Hollywood were blacklisted and had to work under a fake name. Trumbo, in real life, actually won an Academy Award for Roman Holiday. The film looks pretty good and is getting some good reviews out of TIFF. The cast stars Bryan Cranston, who plays Trumbo, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, John Goodman, and Helen Mirren.

 

Limited Release: Spotlight

Based on the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. The film looks really good and looks like it’s going to be a powerful drama, that just so happens to be about a real event that was huge – and arguably still is. The film premiered with great buzz from TIFF and has an all-star cast in Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Jamey Sheridan and Billy Crudup.

 

 

The Peanuts Movie

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang are on the big screen! The trailer have Charlie Brown and the gang dealing with a new kid in school, but the synopsis says that Snoopy is on a mission to deal with his arch nemesis, the Red Baron – which was hinted a bit on the trailer. I don’t think that it really matters at this point, because people will go watch it because they want to see The Peanuts gang on the big screen.

 

Spectre

James Bond is back and has some big shoes to the fill since Skyfall was such a huge hit and considered by fans to be the best Bond film in a long time. However, director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig seem to be up for it. The film follows Bond as he gets a cryptic message that sends him on the trail of a sinister organization, SPECTRE that is lead by a mysterious figure (Christoph Waltz) that may be connected to his past. The film looks great and everyone involved says the film is bigger and better, so let’s hope so. Spectre also stars Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Rory Kinnear, and Stephanie Sigman.

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13th

Limited Release: By the Sea

Angelina Jolie pulls double duty as she stars and returns back behind the camera with story about a married couple, herself and her real-life husband Brad Pitt, as they travel to France in the mid-1970s. The couple seem to be growing apart, but then they linger in one quiet, seaside town they being to draw close to some of its most vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. The film looks like it could be a great dramatic film and with Pitt and Jolie working together, we could be in for a great film too.

 

My All American

A biography sports drama about Freddie Steinmark (played by Finn Wittrock), an underdog quarterback on the football field, faces the toughest challenge of his life leading his team to a championship season. The film looks like a nice underdog story and coming out in mid-November probably makes it a prime spot for those that want to check it out. The film also stars Aaron Eckhart, Robin Tunney, and Sarah Bolger.

 

Love the Coopers

When four generations of the Cooper clan come together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration, a series of unexpected visitors and unlikely events turn the night upside down, leading them all toward a surprising rediscovery of family bonds and the spirit of the holiday. The film looks like we’ve seen it before, but these always have some fun to it, so hopefully this turns out better than expected. The film stars Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Anthony Mackie, Jack Lacy, Alex Borstein, Jon Tenney, Diane Keaton and Alan Arkin.

 

The 33

A film based on the incredible true story of the Chilean miners that were trapped when a mine collapsed on them, leaving with them stuck with no way out. It’s no doubt that the incredible story could lend itself to a great film. The film does look great and will have a pretty big and impressive cast that includes: Antonio Banderas, Juan Pablo Raba, Cote de Pablo, Rodrigo Santoro, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne, Naomi Scott, Jacob Vargas, James Brolin and Juliette Binoche.

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20th

*Legend gets a limited release only opening in L.A. and New York, and gets two different expansion releases. The first one is next week, so I’ll write my thoughts and info there*

 

Secret in their Eyes

A remake of the highly-acclaimed and Award winning Spanish film of the same name follows a tight-knit team of rising investigators (Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofro), along with their supervisor (Nicole Kidman), is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered. I don’t know what to think about the film. On one hand, the film looks like a tenseful drama thriller with a great cast that also includes, Dean Norris and Michael Kelly. On the other hand, the original was a great film and I don’t know it will be able to hold its own against it.

 

The Night Before

Nothing says the end of November and Thanksgiving like a Christmas movie. However, this won’t be a typical Christmas movie. No, this is a comedy with Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie leading the charge. The film is set in New York City and follows three lifelong best friends (Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Mackie) who get together one last time on Christmas Eve to hang out and find the greatest Christmas party. The film looks like a ton of fun and funny, so I can’t wait to watch it. The film also stars Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling and Michael Shannon.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The final installment to the hugely popular and financially successful franchise The Hunger Games is finally here. The film is promising the epic conclusion and final battle between Katniss’ army of rebels and The Capitol’s defensives. The film does look pretty epic, so let’s hope it doesn’t let us down.

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25th

The Good Dinosaur

Disney and Pixar are back at it and what better time to do it than on Thanksgiving. The film follows the journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) makes an unlikely human friend. The film looks like it is going to be another great hit for Pixar and Disney, and if the trailers are anything like the movie, it looks like we are in for another tear-jerking film. The voice cast also includes Jeffery Wright, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, Frances McDormand, and Sam Elliott.

 

Victor Frankenstein

Written by Max Landis (Chronicle), the film is told from Igor’s perspective (Daniel Radcliffe) as we follow him in the early days of being an assistant and friend to young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein (James McAvoy), and sees him become the man and legend that we know today. The film looks better than I thought it would to be honest. It looks like a fun mixture of comedy and action and almost Sherlock Holmes-esque. The film also stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Charles Dance.

 

Creed

Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan reunite to bring us back to the world of Rocky. The film follows Adonis Johnson (Jordan), the son of the late and former World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed, as he enters into the world of boxing for himself. Eventually he seeks the guidance and a trainer in his father’s old rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). The film looks great and it looks they aren’t just doing this for a cash grab, there looks to be a good story here. The film also stars Tessa Thompson, Graham McTavish, Ritchie Coster, and Phylicia Rashad.

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27th

The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) may be vying for another Oscar with this biography drama film that tells the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Their marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer. The film looks interesting and, again, true stories are Oscar bait. Also, they make a great story to tell on the big screen – if told right. The film also stars Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw.

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What are you looking forward to?