• Krampus



    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: April 26th, 2016.
    Director: Michael Dougherty
    Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    Max (Emjay Anthony) is big into Christmas, so when the season rolls around he’s understandably excited not just about presents, but being with family and enjoying the traditions that the holidays typically entail. His parents, Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), plays host to the rest of the family – Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), their uncle Howard (David Koechner) and his wife Linda (Allison Tolman) and their kids Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack), Jordan (Queenie Samuel) and Stevie (Lolo Owen). Everyone, save for Max, is fairly miserable – the holidays can be a lot to take on sometimes.

    When a snowstorm moves in fast and strands everyone in the house, Max’s teenaged sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), insists on going down the street to visit her boyfriend. She doesn’t come back, leading Tom and gun nut Howard to head out to look for her. What they don’t realize is that the snow is the least of their problems. It would seem the ill feelings that the family has towards Christmas has summoned the vengeful Krampus, a supernatural being who comes not to shower people with gifts, but to punish them. All the while Max’s grandmother, Omi (Krista Stadler), seems to know far more about this than anyone else does.

    The cast all play their parts well but there’s really very little character development here and that’s a problem. Koechner is a slightly more intelligent take on Randy Quaid’s cousin Eddie from the National Lampoon’s Vacation films, complete with the meek wife well played here by Fargo’s Allison Tolman and the bratty kids in tow. Adam Scott and Toni Collette are fine as Max’s parents, Scott in particular has great comedic timing and a knack for delivering sarcasm really well, but we never get to really know much about any of these people. Max is a nice enough kid, his sister is a bit of a brat but then most teenage girls are. And Omi, well, she comes from the old country we’re to assume but her connection to what is going on isn’t really fleshed out.

    The end result is an exercise in style over substance with as much emphasis on comedy as on horror. Which would be fine, if the comedy were good enough to carry the picture but it’s not. The jokes here aren’t horrible, but they won’t have you rolling on the floor either. They’re mildly amusing, which really describes the movie as a whole. The effects are really solid and the movie looks great. There are excellent ideas at play here, some of which are genuinely unsettling and creepy enough to make you pay attention. Once the end credits hit the screen, however, you’re just sort of done with it. The movie entertains in moderately enjoyable fits and starts but leaves absolutely no lasting impression whatsoever. And that is odd, considering that the technical side of the film is excellent and that the creature design and effects work kicks all sorts of ass. This is basically Gremlins meets Christmas Vacation, except that it isn’t as good as either of those pictures. Give the filmmakers an A for effort, better luck next time.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Krampus looks excellent in AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen in 1080p high definition from Universal Studios. Shot on digital video, the transfer shows no dirt, debris or print damage obviously but demonstrates beautiful color reproduction and solid black levels throughout – which is important, given that much of the film takes place in low light. Some minor shimmering is present here and there but there are no noticeable problems with edge enhancement or any serious compression artifacts. Detail is strong from start to finish and texture is impressive as well. No complaints, the movie looks fantastic.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks, also in English, as well as Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish. The action scenes in particular demonstrate some very impressive use of the surround channels while even the quieter moments have some interesting ambient and background effects for more attentive viewers to listen for. The score also sounds excellent. Levels are balanced nicely, the track demonstrates range and depth throughout and there are no issues at all with any hiss or distortion. The subtitles are clean and easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.

    Extras start off with a feature lengthy commentary with Director/Co-Writer Michael Dougherty and Co-Writers Todd Casey & Zach Shields that is genuinely informative. They spend a fair bit of time discussing the ideas and inspiration for the film, the folk lore behind it, and how they transported it to modern day suburban America. There’s also discussion and admiration for the admittedly very strong accomplishments of the special effects team, some talk of casting the picture and their thoughts on the performances and quite a bit more.

    The cast themselves get a bit of supplemental love in a featurette called The Naughty Ones: Meet The Cast. This featurette allows the different cast members to talk up their characters and discuss their experiences working on the picture – it’s done with a good sense of humor and if it’s not all that revelatory it is frequently very funny and worth watching for that reason. There are a few other featurettes here, exclusive to the Blu-ray release, starting with Krampus And His Minions which is a look behind the scenes at how the good people at New Zealand’s WETA handled the creature effects that play such a big role in the film. Practical Danger is a piece in which the film’s Stunt Coordinator, Rodney Cook, shows what went into crafting some of the more intricate action set pieces and the stunts that were involved there. Given that most of these scenes involve a mix of digital and practical effects as well as living, breathing, human children, you can understand how it wasn’t always easy. Inside The Snowglobe: Production Design explores how the soundstages that were created for the movie were put together, the detail that was required to make them into convincing replacements for actual locations, and how the effects and props needed for the film were incorporated into all of this. Behind The Scenes At WETA Workshop: Krampus is, as you could probably have guessed, another look at the work WETA put into creating the creature effects and other otherworldly beings that populate the film. Dougherty’s Vision gives director Michael Dougherty a chance to talk about his personal attempts to create something unique with this picture. Inputs from various cast and crew members would seem to indicate that pretty much everyone really enjoyed working with him on the film.

    Outside of that we get an Alternate Ending, a few deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, a still gallery, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Blu-ray disc also includes a DVD version of the movie and an insert card that, when redeemed, will allow you to download a Digital Copy of Krampus. A cardboard slipcover is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Krampus is pretty mediocre stuff, maybe worth watching once but a few steps shy of really working as well as it should. Universal, however, have gone all out on the Blu-ray release and given it an excellent presentation laden with supplements.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!