My Rating: 4 stars
I don’t care what anyone else says. I loved this movie. A lot of people didn’t really like this one very much, saying it wasn’t scary enough to be a horror film, and too dark to be a Christmas film. But, I didn’t find anything to dislike. Of course, I am a sucker for all these movies they release around the holidays with all the big names to draw in a crowd. And, this movie has a pretty great (usually comedic) cast, with Adam Schott, David Koechner, Toni Collette, and a bunch of other faces you’d recognize on sight, if not by name. And, with an added horror element this movie brings to the story, this one was hard to resist. So, I made sure to get to the theater before it was gone.
This film has all the elements you’ve come to expect from a holiday movie—baked goods, tiny elf figurines, annoying family members, judgment. And, then there’s the severe, German grandmother to oversee all the celebrations, subtly disapproving of American overconsumption. But really, this family is inviting the disapproval. They’re pretty terrible. There’s the snobby, wealthy, bickering branch of the family. Then, there’s the course, gun-toting, hillbilly contingent. And, what Christmas would be complete without a drunk aunt, breaking delicate ornaments, and spouting painful truths? The kids have their own issues too. There’s the childish one, who wants to hold on to the Christmas of his childhood even though he’s a little too old for it now. And the teenage daughter who just wants to escape her family and sneak over to her boyfriend’s house. The little cousins are just cruel with their pranks and bullying. This family is as good a candidate as any for a little holiday punishment from Krampus, the evil Christmas demon. And I have to say, Krampus and his minions are pretty scary.
The monsters in this movie are out of every small child’s nightmares. Jack-in-the-Boxes are already pretty stressful to begin with. But, imagine one that has been possessed by demon! Now, repeat this thought exercise with dolls, gingerbread men, and clowns. That’s what I always worried about as a kid—that my toys would come to life while I was asleep and murder me in my bed. So, the monsters in this movie were particularly chilling for me. This family has to band together to fight all of these holiday demons together if they want to stand a chance. They are dealing with supernatural creatures after all. The rules are totally different.
I definitely recommend this movie. But not to people who are going to be whiny babies about it. I’m a little sick of people who just reflexively pick apart movies without giving them a chance. This is a fantastical story. You’ve got approach it with an open mind. And don’t let a few little irritations ruin an entire movie for you.