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I love the holiday season! While Halloween will always be number one on my list of favorite holidays, I think it's safe to say that Christmas is a close second. Not just Christmas Day; I love the weeks leading up to the day as well and all the fun and good cheer that they bring with them. Christmas time is just the perfect time to forget about the hassles and uncertainties of the world and just feel warm and happy. But it isn't always easy to do, and that's why we have so many Christmas movies. It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Ernest Saves Christmas; these are films to remind you that the holidays are here to celebrate love, togetherness and family.

However, sometimes we need something to counter all that joy and happiness lest we get sick of it all. That's why I also love the anti-Christmas movie: films like Gremlins and Bad Santa to give us a healthy dose of cynicism to balance out all that peace on earth and goodwill to men. So, I was overjoyed when Krampus hit the theaters.

The film hits a perfect tone right at the beginning with the opening credits playing over a montage of the all too familiar shopping riots set to the soulful crooning of Bing Crosby. We then meet a young boy who has to deal with the worst Christmas time horror of all: an unwelcome visit from an army of hateful relatives! After a disastrous holiday dinner with a truly dysfunctional family, the boy renounces Christmas and tears up his letter to Santa Claus, and in doing so he invites a hellish snowstorm as well as a malevolent Christmas demon into his neighborhood. What follows is a frightening and sometimes grotesque festival of horrors that still manages to keep that sharp, sardonic edge that persisted in the beginning of the story.

I don't want to give anything away, but I will say the best thing about this film was it's characters, to my surprise. It's true that the entire family are several levels of dysfunctional, but they're never really portrayed as crude stereotypes. They all have a lot of pathos and you can't help but feel sorry for them when bad things start to happen... and do bad things ever happen to all of them (the most pleasant surprise of the film was the fact that the kiddies were attacked with as much ferocity as the adults)! The second best thing about this film were the amazing creature effects which were almost all done practically, heightening the gross-out factor when the family is greeted by all sorts of slimy monsters. One scene that stands out is when our heroes find themselves being attacked by demonic Christmas presents.

All in all, Krampus isn't quite the masterpiece that Gremlins is, but you should definitely check it out if you're at all interested in holiday themed horror flicks (the director is the same guy who gave us Trick-r-Treat after all). It's an expertly made little monster movie perfectly suited to crash all the good cheer and merriment of the holidays.


★ ★ ★ ★