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Krampus (2015)

This was the long anticipated return to horror from writer and director Micheal Dougherty who brought us the well renowned cult classic Trick 'R Treat. Being such a big fan of his first outing in the horror genre it was easy for me to see his signature cinematography and story telling on display here, unfortunately that was not enough for me to see past the studio restrictions put in place stopping him from going as dark as he did in Trick 'R Treat. I think the effects works are one of the stronger elements, all handled extremely well and balanced. It's clear practical and puppetry work was used as a priority and CGI when only vital. For instance I can understand why the gingerbread men where done with CGI as these scenes would have been incredibly difficult to do practically, however I can appreciate the effort clearly used to make them look as practical as possible to be in keeping with the the rest of the film. Unfortunately, this still doesn't excuse bad CGI and there are more than a few moments where they look very out of places and cartoonish. The set work for the blizzard covered town is genuinely awe-inspiring, it all looks very magical yet extremely haunting at the same time. It is all very clearly filmed on a sound stage set rather than location but I think that makes it more impressive, the ability to recreate such realistic looking sets without heavy reliability on green screen something I can always appreciate in a film. The casting is very strong, both in terms of comedy and drama and yet it doesn't feel like anyone gets the script to provide great performances on either front. David Koechner pretty much plays the same character in everything he is in and the same goes for Adam Scott, both of these two are actors that I always enjoy to see on screen but neither do anything particularly different to what we have seen from them before. Toni Collette I feel is an actress who can do no wrong in my eyes but I don't feel she gets the script or screen time to really shine in this film and is sadly more of a back seat character here. I found Stefania LaVie Owen who plays Beth to give the strongest performance of the group and unfortunately she gets the smallest amount of screen time. I really do like the look and terrifying imagery used in the design and creation of Krampus. The scene involving him coming down the chimney in the closing act to ultimately reveal his face was particularly well done and genuinely quite horrifying. However, considering he is the title character we only see him on screen for a total of about 3 minutes. I have come across the folk law tale of Krampus before and if I am being completely honest I have certainly seen it much better executed elsewhere - but more on that when I review the horror anthology A Christmas Horror Story. I did feel the slightly excessive run time could have been tightened up by reducing a lot of the bloated exposition from within the first 30 minutes, removing a few minutes here and there once the family become trapped in the house wouldn't hurt either. I wouldn't necessarily say this suffers from pacing issues, I just felt like it dragged out some of its exposition and conversational sections. I also found it a seemed to me like it took a while to get going, this may be due to the total tonal shift in the story, up until the blizzard this feel very much like any other family Christmas film. There is a heartfelt message buried somewhere within this films plot but it feels lost somewhere in the overall lacklustered execution. This isn't as dark or as gory as the concept calls for nor as funny as the well collected comedic cast could have been, ultimately falling short in my expectations as a result. That isn't to say this is a bad film, I just feel the potential wasn't fully fulfilled. Had this maybe been allowed to go to a full R rating some of these issues could have been improved upon but overall this is average at best.



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