You Better Watch Out. You Better Not Pout ………… Krampus is Coming to Town!

Patrick Schmitt, Staff Reporter

The stockings are hung, the family is near, the fire is hot, and Krampus is here.

A darkly funny tale of the horrors of a chilling folkloric figure’s mental onslaught on a squabbling family on Christmas Eve, “Krampus” delivers clumsy laughs, scares and important lessons to be remembered more so during the Christmas season than any other time of the year.

December’s movie scene has opened with the overall delightful precursor to the box office monsters soon to follow, such as “The Hateful Eight,” “The Revenant,” and “Star Wars: Episode VII.”  Thankfully, too, as most of the powerhouse movies of award season are aimed at a wide-ranging audience, Michael Dougherty’s “Krampus” is offered to a slightly more selective audience — viewers who love a good laugh as well as a good scare, who know that these, at the best of times, work so well together.

The film’s tone juggles comic and horror elements at its own pace, and it’s in this practice that viewers are allowed to let go of what they think a horror movie should be and have a fantastic time.

Unfortunately, most forget that the very best of horror movies, many of which come from the ’80s wave of slasher films, are absolutely hilarious if you allow them to be.  Other great examples are Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” movies, the first of which just had its reboot released back in 2013, one of the more recent horror movies that — along with  M. Night Shyamalan’s even more recent “The Visit” — doesn’t take itself too seriously.

drawing by Hunter Mulloy
drawing by Hunter Mulloy

For those of you who only associate good horror with movies like “The Conjuring” and “Paranormal Activity,” I urge you to let go of the safety of a strictly dark atmosphere and explore the genre to a fuller extent. Give yourself a gift this holiday season and go see “Krampus.”

I’ll admit to a slight concern when I saw that the movie got a PG-13 rating, but it made much more sense when I read the ensemble, led by none other than Adam Scott, whom many will recognize from the comedy TV series “Parks and Recreation.” Beside him are the equally popular David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell.   

In the end, it’s a very fun ride that is enjoyable if you allow it to be. Remember, not everything has to be taken seriously — except for Christmas spirit, of course. But don’t worry. I know someone who will keep you in check.”

I knew I was in for a treat that could be enjoyed by both kids and adults. “Krampus” is just raunchy enough, while proving completely innocent at other times.

This dual tone lies in the story: A small, suburban family’s Christmas week is disrupted by their obnoxiously loud, left-wing relatives in such a way that is reminiscent of Chevy Chase’s troubles in “Christmas Vacation.”

All the while, the youngest boy of the family, Max (played by Emjay Anthony), has trouble deciding whether to send a letter to Santa Clause this year, as his cousins discourage him from doing so.

A building tension explodes in an argument one night, and Max decides to rip apart his letter, convinced that Santa doesn’t exist and that Christmas will never be the way it once was. Then the fun begins.

A sudden power outage hits the neighborhood, and a number of mysteriously disappearing neighbors can’t be found or contacted. It’s soon realized by Omi, the old, German grandma and sage of the family, that Krampus and his helpers have come to wreak havoc on the family as punishment for their selfishness and lack of Christmas spirit.

This is easy to dismiss at first, but it gets increasingly difficult as the children begin to be plucked off one by one.

Krampus himself is physically terrifying, as are his helpers, who come in the form of various household Christmas decorations, one of which is particularly funny, but I won’t give that away here.

The villain and his henchmen create a staggeringly unsettling team of antagonists that take their time playing cat-and-mouse with the family.

In the end, it’s a very fun ride that is enjoyable if you allow it to be. Remember, not everything has to be taken seriously — except for Christmas spirit, of course. But don’t worry. I know someone who will keep you in check.