starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Krista Stadler
written by Todd Casey & Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
directed by Michael Dougherty
by Walter Chaw I used to have a collection of short stories edited by Isaac Asimov, The Twelve Frights of Christmas. Ramsey Campbell's "The Chimney" is anthologized therein, and though it's not directly a Krampus story, it's sort of a Krampus story and was, at least, the first time I'd been introduced to the concept of something like an anti-Santa. It's a great story. Michael Dougherty's Krampus is not great, but with all the lulls and jokes misfiring, it does give you plenty of time to think about other things. (I didn't like his Trick 'r Treat either.) What works about the film are its first twenty minutes or so, where Dougherty seems to be setting up an unpleasant, nasty little commentary on the commodification of Christmas. There's trouble, though, when the parts of your movie that work are the parts that compare best to Jingle All the Way. I'll say, too, that there's genuine delight in the appearance of weird snowmen on the lawn during a blizzard blackout, stranding a shitty family alone with their thoughts while a German alpine demon lurks about outside--as well as hope, however self-deluding and fleet, that Dougherty's going to pay off the early abduction of the second-most sympathetic child of six. Alas, it's ultimately as compromised as Trick 'r Treat. The last five minutes are a masterpiece of playing both sides against the middle and pandering to an intended middlebrow audience. Like its PG-13 rating, Krampus is a devil's bargain between horror film and family film. It's the kind of thing that only really worked when it was Gremlins.