‘Twas two nights before Christmas, when Max in despair,
Tore his letter to Santa Claus into the air;
His anger at family, little did he know,
Would release an ancient force from out of the snow.

At each other’s throats, as only fam’ly are,
Max finally breaks, as they take things too far;
Christmas spirit-free, the group find themselves faced
With snowy monsters, in a blizzard encased.

New film Krampus, from director Mike Dougherty,
Apes the style of crimbo classic Gremlins with glee,
Though darker in tone, a more ambiguous end,
The maker of Trick ‘r Treat, following his trend.

Taking time on the set-up should be commended,
Establishing the fam’ly structure extended –
What with Scott, Collette, Koechner, Tolman and Ferrell,
The muted, locked-horn relations are captured well.

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In the best scenes, when Christmas war has commenced,
The in-fighting fam’ly must battle against,
Elves, jack-in-the-boxes, toy bears and their kind,
Dante’s cult classic Small Soldiers is called to mind.

These moments of action, of drama and fear,
Are only disrupted when laughter draws near;
Krampus – a little uneven in tone, ‘tis true,
But it shows the holiday merrily askew.

No matter how grim the film may seem to be,
It knows what it is, and provides plenty of glee;
Cues from Raimi, and from Dante, keeping things light,
Roles written well, not left emotionally trite.

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The score’s nifty too, courtesy of Douglas Pipes,
Whose music extrapolates from the archetypes
A tension in Christmas, in ‘Carol of the Bells’ –
Under the season’s cheer, a dark current dwells.

This be the crux, the point of Dougherty’s content,
To provide us with taut, concise entertainment
But under the ride, the magic, buried beneath,
Lurks the satirical jester, bearing his teeth.

In short ‘tis uneven, Krampus longing to bite,
It just never strikes fully with black-hearted might;
Likewise the fun, the wacky, the humour so clever,
Tones face each other, compete – one wins out never.

Verdict:

Doing for Xmas what Trick ‘r Treat did for Samhain, Krampus doesn’t quite nail the tone like the latter but provides an antidote to that wretched festive cheer

Tom Watchorn

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