Krampus makes the most of demonic gingerbread men



By Steve Newton

Anyone who enjoyed mid-‘80s horror-comedies that relied on animatronic puppets for their chills and chuckles—movies like Gremlins and the lower-rent Ghoulies—may get a mild kick out of Krampus.

Starting out with a Christmas Vacation vibe, Krampus sees your typical afluent American family–parents Tom and Sarah (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) and teenage kids Max and Beth (Emjay Anthony and Stefanie LaVie Owen)–preparing for Christmas with the dreaded in-laws: Hummer-driving survivalist type Uncle Howard (David Koechner) and his boorish brood. As an unwelcome surprise they’ve brought along trashy Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), so she can waddle into the kitchen, absorb the seasonal décor, and declare: “It looks like Martha Stewart threw up in here!”

Things get dysfunctional pretty quick as Max’s sentimental letter to Santa gets intercepted and read aloud at dinner by one of the visiting brats, leading the disillusioned kid to rip it up and toss it out the window, inadvertently summoning a horned, cloven-hoofed, talon-fingered demon-thingie that leaps from rooftop to rooftop, bringing nothing but bad cheer.

After an evil gingerbread man sets a trap in the chimney for one of the kids, Max’s kindly grandma Oma (Krista Stadler) is compelled to tell—in a beautifully animated stop-motion sequence–how the mythological Krampus first appeared to her as a child back in Germany.

Around this time the anti-Santa’s little helpers—an array of menacing toys from hell—break out of their giftwrapping and join the gingerbread men, forcing the two families to take up arms (shotguns, axes, icicles) against the rampage. “I just got my ass kicked by a bunch of Christmas cookies!” proclaims Howard after one of the more comical attack scenes.

It all leads up to a noisy, overdone climax that tries to drive home a BIG CHRISTMAS MESSAGE but only leaves you hoping for another onslaught from those twisted versions of that show-stealing cookie from Shrek.

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