A family reunion during the Holiday season gets sandbagged by the Anti-Claus who proceeds to punish the naughty and the nice with equal measure in this creative Holiday horror number from the guy who brought you ‘Trick’r Treat.”
Max is at that tender age where his friends have begun teasing him for his belief in Christmas as a time of year for celebrating . This is painfully apparent in the opening scene where he and a fellow child, in a “Nativity” scene ,come to blows over Max’s belief in Mr. Claus. His parents , Sarah and Tom, break up the battle and punish him by not participating in the annual tradition of watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Back at home his Grandmother, Omi , slaves over a hot stove while his parents set out decorations and store bought cookies. All is in order for a visit from Sarah’s sister, Linda , and her family but it is a token effort. Turns out everyone is dreading the visit and the holiday spirit is in short supply.
Linda, and her husband Howard , show up with their four children and Aunt Dorothy, a black sheep who wasn’t even invited. Over dinner Max is humiliated by his cousins who have found his Santa letter and proceed to read it aloud. This starts out as a cruel joke but it is also on them s the letter includes a plea that Santa help out the cousins and their fractured family.
Max is humiliated and speeds to his room where he takes back his Christmas wishes and rips the letter to shreds. He tosses it out the window but a gust of wind takes it skyward . Soon a blizzard swamps their neighborhood . This heralds the arrival of Krampus who comes a calling whenever an innocent child is brought down enough to wish away the yuletide season.
Krampus, a cloven footed Santa shaped being, plays for keeps. He is not averse to preying on someone’s greed. He is more about pulling victims up the chimney then coming down them himself. He also has a nasty calling cards like creepy snowmen, rampaging elves, and a nasty band of gingerbread men!
Ironically the attack brings out the best in these families and they actually pull together in the face of adversity. Fun stuff that lays like a yuletide ‘Gremlins.”
the cast is fine with young Emjay Anthony turning in a sensitive portrayal of’ tweenhood’ as Max. Toni Collette and Adam Scott are good as the parents but veteran character actress Conchata Ferrell steals it as the pushy Aunt Dorothy . The special effects are top notch and include killer toys , spirited cookie people , and a Teddy Bear that’s far from cuddly.
Best Lines: ” My cousins crawled out of the shallow end of the gene pool.”
“It looks like Martha Stewart threw up in here.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.