Krampus — Krampus is a delightful, deranged revision to the standard dysfunctional family Christmas film. It begins as one, with a slew of perfectly cast character archetypes — Toni Collette as a controlling mom, David Koechner as her gun-toting, obnoxious brother-in-law — trapped inside a home for the holidays. The first third of the movie is sharply written, but fairly standard. They bicker at dinner, pick at each other’s life choices and complain about the cooking. Then Max (Emjay Anthony), a young boy teetering on the edge of believing in Santa, is ridiculed by his cousins into tearing up his letter for the North Pole.
From here, Krampus comes unhinged in the best possible way. Max’s lack of faith disturbs St. Nick’s evil twin, a monstrous, horned demon who lands in the neighborhood with a band of demented elves and possessed Christmas toys. Director Michael Dougherty orchestrates a gleeful spectacle of it all, finding a perfect tone that blends absurdity with terror. From gingerbread men cackling as they fire a nail gun at someone to a giant clown jack-in-the-box that eats children, Krampus is filled with some wonderfully terrifying imagery. The ending slightly cheapens the overall effect of everything before it, but I can see this movie becoming a welcome holiday alternative whenever someone suggests that we watch The Santa Clause for the 800th time. Grade: B
The Hunger Games Directed by: Gary Ross Written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Rae (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (book) Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson
The biggest asset The Hunger Games has in both the book and the movie is its insistence on making you think about war as a meaningless, almost ritualistic sacrifice of a country’s youth. As many are likely aware by now, it is the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a gritty young woman raised in the poverty of a dystopian future.
She is chosen along with a young male tribute (Josh Hutcherson) to represent her district, District 12, in the country’s annual Hunger Games “celebration.” This consists of 22 other tweens and teens being thrown into an arena and fighting to the death. The winner returns a war hero, a champion lauded with spoils and congratulated for being turned from child to murderous shell.