Michael Dougherty's Krampus, a long-awaited picture for many in the horror community, is an interesting film. Many of the critical reviews that I've encountered chided the film for waiting so long in revealing this demonic figure of German holiday lore. I didn't think that was much of an issue, personally; overall, Dougherty's pacing was effective. The first act took just the right amount of time in establishing character and illustrating the antagonism that can sometimes surface in familial relationships during the holidays. It really didn't take long to build in the unsettling visuals, as the yard filled with wraith-like snowmen and the onslaught of the blizzard occurred in the film's first twenty minutes.
Adam Scott (pictured above) is a good actor--likable and compelling--and I thought that the casting was a real strength in this one. Paired with the excellent Toni Collette, we get a couple trying to do the right thing by their family, and seemingly punished for no apparent reason by the vindictive Krampus. It is Omi's (the grandmother) brush with Krampus as a child (a fun animated sequence fills in the back-story) that actually seems to precipitate his arrival. Having the next generations pay the wages for the sins of their forebears rings true in terms of the story's horror elements. This is an uncanny haunting, and the visuals and mise-en-scene make this a holiday film that I'll probably watch annually.
It's not perfect. There is some ambiguity in the final acts, as little Max Engel squares off with Krampus. And that final scene, while creepy in its own right, leaves some unanswered questions. But, like Dougherty's other feature film, the excellent anthology Trick r' Treat (2007), this is a good movie and worth the effort to catch it in the theater.