Review: KRAMPUS Copies VACATION?

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[All photos courtesy Legendary Pictures]

krampus-posterKrampus
Written by Todd Casey & Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Copyright 2015

I’m trying a new, for me, way to write this. I went to see Krampus with a friend, Mark Korsten, and got him to send me his thoughts on the movie. In this review I’m including his remarks. It’s not as interactive as it would have been if we’d been having an actual conversation but at least it’s not just my word you’re taking.

SpoilersSign

Maia: Mark: what was you overall take on the movie?

Mark: It was a good movie. The pacing felt about right; it didn’t seem to drag too long. I was glad there weren’t any filler scenes that didn’t need to be there to tell the story.

Maia: I agree with you on pacing and no superfluous scenes. I’m probably judging it with more critical eyes. I thought it was a mixed result. Some of it worked really well and some of it didn’t quite jive.

DAVID KOECHNER as Howard in town in Legendary Pictures? "Krampus", a darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul that reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday.
What is that?

Mark: I enjoyed the comedic banter between Adam Scott and David Koechner.

Maia: Yea. They were the only actors I recognized in the trailer. I was glad to see a slightly different character from David Koechner. He always seems to play pretty much the same character. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, look at Jack Nicholson. He’s had a very successful career playing versions of the same character for decades.

I looked up the director, Michael Dougherty. Interestingly, the movies that he compared this one to are A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. He makes the comparison between the dream element in Krampus and both of these classic Christmas movies.

Nothing to be scared of, right? Photo courtesy Legendary Pictures
Nothing to be scared of, right?

Maia (continued): I suspect that he’s hoping to be compared to the classics. What I didn’t read from him are the obvious similarities between Krampus and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. If you remove some of the physical comedy in Christmas Vacation and add a Krampus, you’d have this movie.

There’s our main family that has the same makeup as the Griswolds. I mean even details are the same. Dad is a Father Knows Best character. Mom is a form of Debbie Domestic with a flair for decorating. The kids are a boy and girl. The son is younger and shares a heart to heart talk with his Dad.

The extended family that arrives to stay for a long weekend has a striking resemblance to the Johnsons. Howard could be a stand in for cousin Eddie. They even bring along their completely undisciplined dog. Don’t forget the uncomfortable dinner table scene.

Krampus even uses extreme close up shots of a wonderfully detailed Advent calendar to express the passage of time. I don’t know the details of copyright infringement law, but this has to be getting close.

"Pull my finger."
“Pull my finger.”

Mark: It made good use of the back story on Krampus for those that don’t know. I wanted them to go into how Krampus was actually summoned but it wasn’t there. In the animated story, they showed the people fighting and stealing food, but not what Omi did wrong. Max tore up his letter; was that enough to incur a visit from Krampus? Or was it the attitude of the child (loss of Christmas spirit), the actions of the child, the actions of the family as a whole, etc.?

Maia: I don’t know either. That was a failing of the story. It didn’t explain a lot of things about Krampus. We never do find out what the rules are. What about the other people that were frozen or gone, the snowplow driver, Beth’s boyfriend? What happened to them?

Mark: Something else that bothered me, most of the action scenes took on the Guy Ritchie technique of using dark lighting and close proximity to the action, making it hard to see what was actually happening. This has spread into TV as discussed on Grimm.

Maia: You’ve listened to Kammie, huh? Yup. Not a favorite.

Mark: I saw that they got you with the Jump scare tactic, repeatedly.

Maia: True, but there were other parts that were so over the top that I laughed out loud. I’m not sure if those parts were supposed to be funny or if they just struck my funny bone.

Mark: I’d mainly compare this to Gremlins, though Krampus has less gore and more creep factor (jack in the box). I’m not a huge gore fan. I liked Krampus better.

Maia: Really, Gremlins? I hadn’t made that connection. I sorta see it. But dude, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. You can’t deny that.

Mark: Remember Maia: keep the fire hot!

Maia: Got it. And I won’t let Howard take the first watch.

Krampus opened nationwide on December 4. For more information, visit the official Krampus website.

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Maia Ades

Maia Ades resented the demanding schedule of first grade, as it interfered with her afternoon TV schedule. Now she watches TV for "research" and in order to write show reviews. She is currently involved in independent film production, and enjoys creating fine art.

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