Michael Dougherty’s yuletide horror entry has all the makings of a genre classic just waiting to happen, but it never really seems to come alive all the way through. There’s a terrific cast on hand as the movie’s breakneck pace gets going, but perhaps the movie’s biggest problem is that its characters are uniformly unlikable. There’s no one to root for really, and the movie has a palpable, unpleasant mean streak that takes some of the fun out of it. After all, it can be entertaining to watch a family under siege by a Swedish folk monster as he punishes them for their cynicism, but it’s something else entirely to watch a mother lose her children one at a time in increasingly violent ways. It’s a shame too, because there are numerous genre references that horror geeks can really sink their teeth into, like “Gremlins,” “Tremors,” and Stuart Gordon’s “Dolls,” and it’s also buoyed by a first-rate animated segment half-way through that will simply take your breath away. So, in the end “Krampus” is precipitously on the verge of unrealized potential, but Dougherty crafts a number of striking scenes along the way so it’s worth a watch, even if it doesn’t quite know where to go with its characters.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)