Walking out of Krampus I heard one audience member mention Goosebumps, and even though I never saw any of the series based on RL Stine's books (it fell into the uncanny valley between me being too old for it and it not being heralded enough to bridge that gap) I still get what that audience member was getting at -- Krampus mostly feels like a longer stronger episode of an anthologized horror series, one with a bigger budget (but not too big) and tip-top terrific name actors slumming it for chuckles and chills. But oh what laughs, and oh what shrieks, and oh what merry mayhem they make! Christmas as a holiday deserves all the horror movies we can throw at it and I think Krampus could stand tall beside the classics, the Gremlins and Jack Skellingtons.
The first act had me a little worried the characters were being drawn too broadly (the gun-nut mac-n-cheese conservatives against the prim slash proper cardigan liberals) but writer-director Michael Stephenson opens the folks up as the monsters close in, as the yule logs cool, and the actors get to imbue some real heart into the relationships under extreme holiday duress. Come for the killer gingerbread men, and then stick around for the tender moments between Toni Collette and Allison Tolman.
And then stick around longer, with a jolly good giggle and a warm heart, for more and more of the killer gingerbread men. Oh my god, the gingerbread men, the angels, the jack-in-the-box, and the monsters! The monsters! Give me all of them under my tree this Christmas Eve, Saint Nick or Not Saint Nick, whoever gets there first -- I want them, I want them all, in the true spirit of the season.