Rated: PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: December 4, 2015 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Krampus has a great opening. As Bing Crosby sings a classic Christmas song we see shoppers pushing, shoving and fighting as they rush into the store to find the early bargains. The soft words of the song are counter-point to the selfish roughhouse of the customers who will do anything to achieve their goals for gift buying.
The theme here speaks to Krampus who according to Omi (Krista Stadler) who is Max's grandmother is the dark side of Christmas the shadow of Santa Clause who comes into power when Santa and Christmas. When young Max (Emjay Anthony) states "I hate Christmas and I hate all of you." He sets in motion the evil dark side of Christmas.
Max's family is made up of his father (Adam Scott), mother (Toni Collette), his uncle (David Koechner), aunt (Alison Tolman) sister (Stefania LeVie Owen) and his mother's aunt (Alison Tolman). As the family arrives we learn of the tensions that will be handing in the air for the three day event. While grandmother Omi bakes cookies she watches Miracle on 34th Street and takes great pride in her work but mom comes in with cookies she purchased in the local grocery store. It's gram that relays the story of dark Christmas as we watch a stop motion flashback to the time she was a little girl. Members of the family all have problems with each other, if it's not personality it is the differences between their perception of life. They are not happy players. That and Max ripping up his letter to Santa sends a message and the dark forces take over.
Director Michael Dougherty brings us into the dark dangerous world very quickly as all the utilities go off line and a massive powerful snow storm blankets the neighborhood. There is beauty in the heavy white blanket that covers everything but darkness comes quickly and the white turns gray and when sister Beth heads out to visit her boyfriend we begin to learn what the family is in for. Something dark is lurking under the snow and vehicles are stalled with no drivers remaining, in that atmosphere Beth disappears.
From then on family members are set upon by giant puppet like creatures who bite and pull on each of the group. The smart atmosphere of dark snow and sky which fill the early part of the film don't last long enough to create a fearful energy for the script. What remains are attacks on the characters and situations in which each has a role to play that brings respect where it did not exist beforehand. That is just a little too simple.
Krampus has a fine beginning but the resolution is limited and not particularly creative and even when it brings comedy and the voices of Perry Como and Gene Autry signing Christmas songs it's just not enough.