** out of ****
According to Alpine folklore, Krampus is the horned, hoofed antithesis of Saint Nicholas. Instead of rewarding good children on Christmas, Krampus punishes the naughty. The lore is altered in the new movie by having the evil Krampus appear when a little boy (Emjay Anthony) feels his family has lost the Christmas spirit.
The initial appearance of the beast is impressive and haunting, but it soon takes a backseat to ineffectual Gremlins-inspired horror-comedy in the form of demonic toys and vicious gingerbread men attacking the family. Dad Adam Scott has a few good one-liners but that's about it. Krampus is neither that funny or scary. This is a major disappointment since it's directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty, who gave us the incredibly entertaining Halloween-inspired horror film Trick 'r Treat in 2007.
It just would have been much more fun with Krampus chasing after naughty children. Instead, we get stupid killer toys and a good little boy caught in the center. For better yuletide terror, check out 1980's low-budget Christmas Evil (aka Terror in Toyland aka You Better Watch Out) about a crazed toy-maker (Brandon Maggart) in a Santa Claus suit deciding – with an axe – who is naughty and who is nice. It's intelligent and is capped off by an outrageous and surreal final scene. Too bad Krampus isn't as memorable.