Absolutely loved this film, much like the same crew's work on another holiday-themed horror film (with tongue planted firmly in cheek,) Trick R Treat.
If you've seen the aforementioned Trick R Treat, you know what to expect tonaly- there's genuine creepiness, and for each instance, there's also some laughs, often of the same instance in question.
In Krampus, we're introduced to Adam Scott and his family, who have an outward happiness, even if there's unhappiness just beneath the surface. His brother, played by frequent Will Ferrell collaborator, David Koechner, (playing a pseudo- "Cousin Eddie" of Vacation films role here- while never overreaching to rip-off territory,) comes with his family to spend the holidays, where their mother also lives.
Where Scott's family may hide their issues more successfully, his brother's family wear their issues as both badges of honor and suits of armor, and it takes digging to find their happiness buried below.
This brings it to something I normally can't stand in films... but is perfect in today's climate; not so subtle political statements. Where Scott is the democrat, Koechner is a gun-loving staunch republican. Like the story itself, it's all done tongue in cheek, and never becomes overbearing; much of what's said and done is for laughs. (Upon a knock on the door, and a present being left on the porch, as they wonder who left it, Koechner quips, "it must have been a Democrat".)
If anything, the political message here is one both sides should be able to agree on: when the chips are down, no matter what we believe, we're stronger working together. (If you even choose to follow through on the political clues throughout the film- as stated, this is far from a political movie, and both sides get their share of jokes in the film).
Of course, it's Scott's son, bullied by his sports-addicted female cousins, that has a crisis of his yearly letter to Santa. In a fit, he rips it up and the spirit of Krampus is personified, besting the Christmas spirit that he and his grandmother seemed to carry for the entire family.
What follows is a great Christmas film; much more one than horror or even comedy. It uses all of the genres it includes to make a great film about Christmas, family, and conflict... while remaining entertaining it's entire running time. And that's what's made Krampus great. You can view it in any way you choose, because each genre it represents, each message it sends is strong enough to watch it as an individual theme, or to just sit down and take it all in.
There's very little letdown here, with my only complaint being a lack of screen time... or screen time of impressiveness of the title character. When Krampus is seen, he's an impressive figure, but I wanted to see more- particularly because it wears a Santa mask that's never removed. As impressive as the rest of the creature is, I would have loved to see what the FX crew had dreamed up as its true face.
While I selected 5 stars, Krampus really should be 4 1/2. The minimal usage of Krampus was enough to leave me that 1/2 star disappointed.
I know what I'll be watching this Christmas!