Blu-ray Review Comedy

'Krampus' Blu-ray Review: Holiday horror-comedy brings festive frights

April 26, 2016Ben MK

The legend of Krampus — a demonic anti-Clause, if you will — dates back centuries. However, the character is only now beginning to earn its place in pop culture. Now, after appearing on TV shows like The Colbert Report and Supernatural, Krampus finally has his very own movie, a horror-comedy in the vein of '80s cult classics like Gremlins and Labyrinth.

The second movie from director Michael Dougherty, Krampus tells the story of Max (Emjay Anthony), a boy with only one wish: for Christmas to be like the way it was. It's a wish that may very well take a Christmas miracle, what with his big sister Beth (Stephania LaVie Owen) more preoccupied with her boyfriend than family life, and with their parents Tom and Sarah's (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) marriage on the rocks. Making matters worse are Sarah's sister Linda (Allison Tolman), her redneck husband Howard (Dave Koechner) and their four annoying kids, not to mention Sarah's overbearing aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), whose visit just a couple days before Christmas only adds to the stress.

Things finally come to a head after two of Max's cousins (Lolo Owen and Queenie Samuel) tease him for still believing in Santa, and as a result, Max tears up his letter to Santa and tosses the shreds of paper out his bedroom window. Little does he realize, however, that by doing so, he has unwittingly summoned an ancient spirit known as Krampus, an entity his German-born grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) knows only too well. Soon, a freak blizzard descends upon their town, the power is knocked out, mysterious snowmen appear on their front lawn, and Max's family is besieged by Krampus' creepy minions, including homicidal gingerbread men, a killer teddy bear, a people-eating jack-in-the-box and evil elves.

Much like Dougherty's debut film, the 2007 Halloween anthology Trick 'r Treat, Krampus is a movie that has it tongue firmly planted in its cheek. However, that's not to say that the film isn't suitably scary. Written by Dougherty, Todd Casey and Zach Shields, this "modern-day Christmas Carol" (as Dougherty himself describes it) is also a real treat for fans of practical effects, who will revel in the old-school puppetry and animatronics cooked up by New Zealand effects house Weta Workshop. Coupled with the story's dark humor and irreverent take on Christmas-themed films, and there's no doubt that Krampus is destined to be a new holiday cult-classic.

Krampus scares up a frightfully good time on Blu-ray, thanks to a gorgeous 1080p transfer. Image quality is razor-sharp from start to finish, all the better to observe the film's macabre-looking creature effects; colors are richly saturated, especially the traditional red, green and gold hues of the season; and black levels and contrast never falter, which makes day-lit scenes pop and prevents nighttime sequences from appearing murky. On the audio front, the film's primary DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack keeps the dialogue and the Christmas-themed music relatively well-balanced; however, more action-oriented effects, such as screams, claps of thunder and howling winds, not to mention the sound of Krampus stomping from roof to roof, register as excessively loud in comparison.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Alternate Ending (1:24)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes (17:41) - Fourteen scenes ("Family Photos," "Checking In," "Bump in the Night," "Emergency Warning," "Beth Search," "Are You Jealous?," "Squirrels," "Doesn't Add Up," "Holiday Confessions," "Almost Had Him," "Waiting Game," "Around the Fireplace," "Staircase" and "Locked Out").
  • Gag Reel (5:15) - Goofs and silliness from the set.
  • Krampus Comes Alive! (29:36) - A five-part making-of documentary ("Dougherty's Vision," "The Naughty Ones: Meet the Cast," "Krampus and his Minions," "Practical Danger" and "Inside the Snowglobe: Production Design") that looks at the origins of Krampus, the horror-comedy tone of the movie, the cast, the creature effects, the stunt work and the production design.
  • Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop: Krampus (9:54) - An extended look at the movie's creature effects, from the special effects techniques used to bring Krampus himself to life, to the Weta wizardry responsible for his menagerie of grotesque helpers.
  • Galleries - 3 pieces of "Theatrical Poster Art," 110 pieces of "Creature Art," 32 pieces of "Story Art," 8 pieces of "Michael Dougherty Xmas Card Art" and 325 total panels of "Storyboards" ("Beth is Taken," "Attic Attack," "Gingerbread Men Attack" and "Krampus and Omi Reunion").
  • Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Michael Dougherty and Co-Writers Todd Casey & Zach Shields - The trio talk about the challenges in making the film, the tone of the movie as a throwback to '80s horror movies, the casting, the visual effects and more, as well as tell stories about the production itself.

Krampus is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of April 26th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 38 Mins.

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