Krampus does a terrific job of capturing the desperation, stress and sometimes miserable spirit of Christmas. The fantasy elements work very well and the horror bits compliment the fantastical world and creatures that inhabit it. The only issue with Krampus is that it loses its way for a good thirty minutes after a class act opening.
The intro is one of the funniest, darkly comic and blatantly true openings of a film for quite a while. Angry customers and apprehensive shoppers all crash into each other trying to get their presents. The upbeat Christmas music playing over juxtaposes the anger and violence the public are feeling. Crying kids, pervert Santas, taser victims and failed carol singers collide and it's wonderfully funny!
Toni Colette is brilliant in everything she does and yet again proves a highly capable, sweet and talented star, and here she plays a Mother wanting a perfect Christmas but obviously she ain't getting one! She sells the tiresome mindset of a failed festive season and Colette's scared face is awesomely convincing. The shot of her family's manger photo is a superb visual gag filled with misery. Krista Stadler, too, delivers a brilliant performance as Omi, the most likeable and earnest character in the film who holds a secret past!
Adam Scott, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony and David Kouchner are great as a highly dysfunctional and argumentative family, each biting at one another until they realise to survive the night they must learn to deal with each other and fight the evil forces. The monster design is creepy, at times inspired and very creative, I loved that they look innocent for a few seconds but then they attack, revealing under the surface hides a ghastly flesh-eating monster. The gingerbread men are funny yet twisted and the scene of them attacking Koechner is very well staged and even more glorious when slow motion comes into play. There is a lot right with this film, but there are a few problems.
The pace stalls significantly once the two father's go searching for one of their missing daughters. They venture out into the snow and come across some startling signs of danger, and after a failed attempt they retreat back to the house. Nothing exciting, memorable or even remotely important enough to drive the narrative onward happens after this, and when more kids go missing within the house, the following ten minutes turns into a long montage of hallway shots and watching characters slowly edge through their home. However, when the monsters finally attack and come out to play, things pick up.
I loved the ending. It is so bleak, unfair and just damn dark, especially for a Christmas film, you'd at least think there would've been some kind of redemption or feel good moment but no, and in many ways that's respectful because nowadays there are too many feel good endings and Krampus doesn't shy away from dampening the mood. Rating: 7.1