Krampus is a horror comedy with too many ideas, not enough jokes, not enough of its own internal mythology and a weak ending. In some ways it feels like it’s trying to be a new, more Christmas-oriented Gremlins, but it is definitely not.
So, first off, there are some pretty great Christmas horror ideas in this movie, once it finally gets going. There are what you might call “Christmas Tremors,” there are evil killer toys and baked goods, there are evil elves and, of course, the titular demon. In addition, there is also the pretty great idea of someone building creepy snowmen on your lawn without your knowledge. I think some of these ideas are creepy or funny or could be both, but I think a better movie would have winnowed them down or saved for a different movie. For example, the creepy snowmen thing would be pretty good in a creepy snowmen movie, right? (Or in a film with a serial killer or something.) There are just too many ideas and it would be nice if there was only Krampus and many one or two other henchmen, not an army.
But I think I would care less if the jokes landed more often than not. I laughed maybe four times tops. I don’t blame the actors; I think the script doesn’t have enough good lines and only a couple of visual gags land like they should. In terms of the visual gags, most of them are more amusing than laugh-out-loud funny, if they’re even amusing.
The internal mythology is not well developed and were not really sure what it is specifically; does he replace Santa in some years when people have been particularly forgetful of the Christmas season or what? The animated backstory is an interesting take but it does feel like it may have been done for budgetary reasons.
I like the idea that Krampus doesn’t make deals but the ending still feels weak to me – they’re imprisoned in Christmas in hell in perpetuity? I’m not sure that’s bad enough given the horror they experience.
Anyway, I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. But there are decent pieces within it, just not assembled well enough.