Krampus (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 5-May-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Alternate Ending
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette-Making Of-Krampus Comes Alive!
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop: Krampus
Gallery
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 97:40
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Dougherty
Studio
Distributor
Universal Sony Starring Emjay Anthony
Adam Scott
Toni Collette
Stefania LaVie Owen
Krista Stadler
Conchata Ferrell
Allison Tolman
David Koechner
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Douglas Pipes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Thai dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Spanish
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
German
Thai
Icelandic
Italian
Norwegian
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Filmmaker Michael Dougherty made quite an impact with his anthology horror movie Trick ‘r Treat all the way back in 2007, but the writer-director seemingly disappeared after the release of that cult gem, despite showing tremendous genre talents. 2015’s Krampus is Dougherty’s long overdue follow-up endeavour, and it combines the dysfunctional family antics of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with the horror film sensibilities of Joe Dante’s Gremlins and the Euro eccentricity of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Comparisons to Gremlins are inevitable, as Dougherty establishes a distinct throwback vibe, relying on practical effects as much as possible, making smart use of the modest budget at his disposal. Krampus may be PG-13, but don’t let the docile rating fool you - Dougherty delivers the freaky goods with reassuring confidence.

    December 25 is approaching in suburbia, and pre-teen Max (Emjay Anthony) is finding it hard to maintain his Christmas spirit. His father Tom (Adam Scott) is a workaholic, while his mother Sarah (Toni Collette) is anal retentive as she prepares for the arrival of their extended family. Stomping into the house are Linda (Allison Tolman), her husband Howard (David Koechner), and their bratty kids, on top of the horrendously rude Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell). When Max’s cousins find his good-hearted letter to Santa Claus and openly mock him for it, Max rips up the note in a moment of frustration and tosses it out into the snowy night. However, this act inadvertently summons Krampus, a demonic figure of Alpine folklore whom Max’s immigrant grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) is all too familiar with. As a colossal blizzard moves in, the family become trapped inside the house as they’re gradually picked off by Krampus and his ghoulish minions.

    Instantly announcing itself as the antithesis of standard Hollywood Christmas movies, Krampus opens with an inspired montage showing the madness that occurs when holiday shoppers rush into department stores on Black Friday. Unfolding entirely in slow motion, Dougherty focuses on the frantic customers who get into fights with one another and trample on the fallen, driven by rampant consumerism. It’s a brilliantly provocative opening scene, even playing out to the tune of Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and it underscores that Christmas cheer is perhaps not quite what it used to be once upon a time. If there’s a flaw with Dougherty’s storytelling, it’s that the movie does drag during its opening act, with the material involving the extended family never quite gaining much comedic traction. And when Krampus does come out to play, the moments of respite are overly hit and miss, with uneven pacing.

    In its second half, Krampus transitions into a home invasion tale, and the ensuing attack scenes are consistently thrilling, establishing a Gremlins-esque tone of comedic mayhem. There’s an underlying streak of dark humour which saves the flick from abject bleakness, and - much like with Trick ‘r’ Treat - Dougherty exhibits firm command of the screen, aided to no small degree by cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin. Krampus embraces practical effects as well, giving vivid life to the hair-raising creatures through elaborate costumes and puppetry, affording an ’80s horror flick feel and adding a sense of tangibility to the nightmare. The digital gingerbread men aren’t quite convincing, and do look slightly out of place, but the rest of the titular demon’s minions are thankfully more tactile. And just to reinforce the throwback feel, there’s a flashback sequence told using Rankin and Bass-style stop-motion animation in which Omi reveals her childhood experience with Krampus in Germany. It’s a nice touch indeed. Krampus is more unnerving than outright terrifying, but it’s a skilful ride all the same.

    Performances are suitably convincing right down the line, especially with the likes of Scott and Collette who are watchable in anything, while Koechner makes a positive impression playing a redneck stereotype. The chaos eventually culminates for a shrewd ending that rejects many of the more obvious story resolutions, and even leaves things open for interpretation. Not everything works in Krampus, but it does breathe fresh cinematic life into a creepy Christmas legend. It might become a new annual film-watching tradition at Christmas for the same folks who enjoy the more unorthodox holiday movies like Bad Santa and Die Hard.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Krampus was filmed digitally on a limited budget of $15 million, and it looks mostly satisfying on Blu-ray. Framed in the movie’s original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, this 1080p, AVC-encoded high definition presentation does have its limitations due to the source, but the strengths outweigh any shortcomings.

    First things first: the photography does look slightly flat on the whole, and the image does look a tad smooth and sometimes smeary, lacking the refined punch of more expensive productions. I did not notice any encoding anomalies, but since some scenes are set outside in the blizzard, there are murky-looking shots, and some source-related noise does crop up on occasion. But these are about the only weaknesses of an otherwise fine transfer, which looks nicely detailed and sharp. Object delineation remains strong throughout, and the presentation expertly reveals the intricacies on faces, clothing and all the monsters.

    Colours look exceptionally vibrant, and the image retains superb clarity even in low lighting. Blacks always look inky, doing justice to the stylish photography, and I never detected any black crush, which is fortunate. Krampus is not reference material, but it does its job well.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
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Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The primary audio option on this disc is a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which should please horror fans hoping for a robust, immersive soundtrack. The smaller character moments are bolstered by crisp, clear dialogue, and during the more intense set-pieces, the mix truly comes alive. Channels are used wisely to provide atmospherics throughout, while the subwoofer is enormously active whenever the any of the creatures come out to play. Monster growls have genuine impact, gunshots are booming, and scenes set outside in the blizzard are terrifically layered.

    Luckily, dialogue is never drowned out by the mayhem, and the music ably underscores the film without every overwhelming any sound effects. This is a smartly-mixed track which sounds superb.

    Other lossy DTS language options are available on the disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Plenty of special features, which will please fans.

Alternate Ending (HD; 1:24)

    A less ambiguous and “happier” ending. There isn’t any additional footage; it just shortens the final shot.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD; 17:41)

    A staggering fourteen scenes are available to view here, totalling nearly eighteen minutes. All scenes are properly colour timed and are of the same high quality as the main feature. There are a few meaty additions, as well as some smaller beats that were excised from longer scenes. These are worth watching, but the film is definitely tauter without them.

Gag Reel (HD; 5:15)

    As to be expected from a horror-comedy featuring some comedy-oriented actors, these outtakes are highly amusing. It’s clear that everybody involved in the production had a fun time.

Krampus Comes Alive (HD; 29:36)

    Five behind-the-scenes featurettes are available to view here, constituting a “making of” documentary. They can be viewed individually, or via a “Play All” function.

Behind the Scenes at Weta Workshop: Krampus (HD; 9:54)

    An extension of the previous documentary, this is more of an EPK-style look at the making of the movie, with interviews from various cast and crew. As implied by the title, special focus is directed towards Weta’s efforts on the movie to execute all of the monsters. There is some great stuff here.

Galleries (HD)

    Five galleries are available to peruse here: “Theatrical Poster Art,” “Creature Art,” “Story Art,” “Michael Dougherty Christmas Card Art,” and “Storyboards.”

Feature Commentary

    Dougherty sits down with co-writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields for an informative, mostly scene-specific dissection of the movie. Dougherty initially wanted a vintage 1980s Universal logo to open the movie, and the director talks about the struggle to secure classic Christmas songs due to the story’s dark content. Also interesting are discussions about what’s practical and what’s digital, while other topics include film influences, allusions, and the PG-13 rating, among many other things. Aside from some dead space, this is a solid track that fans of the movie should listen to.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In terms of supplements, all editions worldwide are identical. Buy local.

Summary

    Krampus is a fine little Christmas-themed horror-comedy, reminiscent of Gremlins and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale but ultimately emerging as its own unique thing. It's easy to recommend this one.

    The Blu-ray from Universal Sony is solid across the board. The presentation is above-average, and there's a terrific, meaty selection of supplements which delve into the movie's creation. This one comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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