It’s Christmas Eve, and terror lurks in the Engel household. Something so terrible it sends shivers down the spine of all involved. It’s the annual visit from the relatives. Mom Sarah (Collette) has married into a decent life with Tom (Scott), living with their kids and the paternal grandmother (Krista Stadler). The visiting clan are a bunch that almost makes the Griswalds appear appealing. Howard and Linda (the ever-watchable Koechner and Tolman respectively) have their obnoxious children in tow, as well as Aunt Dorothy (Ferrell); they all want to be there as much as they are welcome, but traditions must be followed.
When Max (Anthony) is teased for his letter to Santa, he retreats to his bedroom upset. Tossing the ripped paper into the air appears to set in motion a Christmas they won’t forget - but one all too familiar to Grandma Engel. One by one, the family will come under attack or be taken by a series of nightmarish creatures - ranging from vicious gingerbread men to psychotic elves and murderous Jack-in-the-box clowns. The worst is yet to come as Krampus himself is to pay a visit for those who haven’t necessarily been good all year.
Although the sum of the parts may well seem hackneyed and predictable, the likeable cast (and especially the insufferable characters) make the action enjoyable. While it’s not as scary as it should be, there is enough horror and thrills to keep the less demanding fan pleased. The family dynamic is the draw here, with our sympathies and loyalty purely with young Max, while he tries to weather the storm that hits his home - and that’s even before the titular anti-Claus makes his presence felt.
It’s a shame that the seasonal theme ties it too much to one time of year. While Trick r’ Treat was entertaining enough to spin at almost any time, whether you’ll want to dig out this frosty fear flick in the middle of summer is another thing.
KRAMPUS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL DOUGHERTY / SCREENPLAY: TODD CASEY, MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, ZACH SHIELDS / STARRING: ADAM SCOTT, TONI COLLETTE, DAVID KOECHNER, ALLISON TOLMAN, CONCHATA FERRELL, EMJAY ANTHONY / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 25TH