Viking Night: Krampus
By Bruce Hall
December 21, 2016
The opening moments of Krampus accurately reflect more or less how I feel about Christmas.
It's Black Friday at a big box store, and the moment the doors open, grown men and women literally trample one another for the privilege of spending themselves out of house and home. And why? Just to buy kitschy bric-a-brac for people they see once a year, who will derive exactly 20 minutes of fickle joy out of it before moving on forever.
Ah, Christmas. The happiness lasts a day but the credit card bills will be with you forever. What was once a celebration of life and renewal is mostly now just a yearly obligation to flush a month's pay down the toilet so our greed based economy can stay afloat for another year. And it actually gets worse all the time. I don't think they even wait until Thanksgiving anymore to start pumping you up for the Big One; they want you standing in line with your wallet open before the turkey and stuffing has even hit your small intestine.
Spend spend spend, but never save. There's a welfare state to take care of you later so why bother? Unless there's not. One day it'll all just implode, and every day can be Black Friday.
I used to love Christmas. Now it's like an expensive rash that just never quite goes away.
This is about where Tom Engel (Parks and Rec's Adam Scott) and his family are when they return home from the Melee at the Mall. Tom's youngest son Max (Emjay Anthony) has just discovered Santa isn't real, but he still cherishes Christmas the way only a preteen can. Max's older sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owens) is on on the cusp of adolescence, and therefore already rocking a perma chip on both shoulders.
Tom works hard and is gone much of the year, which puts a lot of stress on his wife Sarah (Toni Collette). But, they slog through it and hold it together for the kids. In addition, Tom's German speaking mother lives with them. Everyone speaks English to her, and she speaks German back, and somehow somebody in the room always understands her. It's a contrivance similar to the one Han Solo and Chewbacca communicate with, and it's just as weird. But Krampus is a German legend, and you know that at some point in the movie, the old German lady will be the one to explain it all.
Whatever Tom does for a living, it's enough to let them live in one of those absurdly huge houses that in real life cost more than God's cufflinks. But in movies, homes sell for like ten bucks a square foot. Good thing, because Sarah's less fortunate sister Linda (Allison Tolman) is making her annual visit with her husband Howard (David Koechner), and they need something to be resentful of as soon as they walk in the door.