There are worse things you could get than a lump of coal.
For every holiday cynic out there who rolls their eyes at how Christmas has become this weird blend of over-the-top capitalism and watered-down Paganism, the movie “Krampus” couldn’t come soon enough.
This is a film where the amazingly dark and often ignored mythology of Santa Claus comes to life in hilarious fashion. A young boy turns his back on Christmas and accidentally invokes the wrath of the demon, Krampus, an evil reflection of Santa Claus who punishes non-believers.
Plenty of violence and mayhem ensues, but this is not a genuinely frightening horror film like “Black Christmas” or a gory, ironically funny slasher like “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” “Krampus” has Christmas cult-classic potential but falls more into the vein of “Gremlins.” It’s a scary movie, but one that most of the family can enjoy.
That being said, the humor here is aimed foremost at adults, and it’s done to great effect by the cast, particularly Adam Scott, Toni Collette and the constantly underrated David Koechner.
Koechner is arguably only a one-note comedian, but it is a note he has perfected so well that it is hard to even want him to do something different.
The comedy is definitely where “Krampus” shines the brightest, but sometimes it does seem to forget the importance of comedy. There are stretches of inconsistency where it tries a little too hard to be genuinely frightening or emotional, and a lot of that falls flat. It is admirable that the movie wants to be more, but it isn’t necessary with how well it handles the comedy.
“Krampus” won’t make any sort of indelible mark on our culture, but it’s a fun, spookily charming addition to one of Hollywood’s strangest subgenres. What director Michael Dougherty did for Halloween with “Trick R Treat,” he does for Christmas with this film.
“Krampus” gets 8 “maids a-milking” out of 10.