Krampus (2015)

Krampus (2015)
  • Time: 98 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Horror
  • Director: Michael Dougherty
  • Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Emjay Anthony, David Koechner


When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.


  • So is it true? Am I hearing this right? Did Universal Studios have the cojones to put out a comedy/horror/fantasy picture during the almighty silly season? Well good for them. I say bravo chap!

    Anyway let’s face it. Everybody loves a good holiday film. Maybe it’s Scrooge you fancy. Or maybe it’s Elf. Maybe it’s Home Alone. Heck, it could be Mixed Nuts for all I care (oy vey). Krampus (my latest review) is Christmas-themed but it also has horror movie interludes. This thing basically gives the middle finger to all concepts of yuletide cheer and goodwill towards men. Just throw in an element of Gremlins, a dash of Assault on Precinct 13, and Two and a Half Men’s Conchata Ferrell for comic relief. That’s Krampus for ya. In the words of flappable Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one!”

    Taking place amidst the present day and containing animation derived from one long flashback, Krampus the flick is about Krampus the horned, anthropomorphic figure. He (or she) punishes little kids who are disobedient and shout out that they hate Christmas. Max (played by Emjay Anthony) commits these offenses and much more. He also rips up a letter that he planned to give Santa Claus on the 24th. Next thing you know his family (consisting of actors/actresses Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner) is terrorized by Krampus, his monstrous elves, and just about every ghoulish entity in sight (the image of snowmen outside dwelling windows still gives me the chills the more I think about it). Over the film’s short running time, the skies in turn get grayer, the snowstorms get heavier, and no other humans are out and about. Basically the whole family is trapped in their Christmassy, East Coast home. Miracle of 34th Street becomes nightmare on residential street. Natch!

    Now Krampus with its bloodless violence and campy tone, is a movie that provides you with no mercy. It doesn’t really frighten with jump scares or jolts. It’s more about the demented images of monsters who relentlessly pursue the dysfunctional, suburban family spotlighted. Translation: Take heed if your a parent because this 2015 release is not for the kiddies. With almost no build-up, fifteen minutes pass and you already know that chaos will rear it’s ugly suture. Director Michael Dougherty provides the audience with a mixture of snarky dialogue and creature intake composed of snaggletoothed devils (masking as evil dolls). Add a ton of fake snow, howling winds, and icicles the size of Texas and you got yourself a grim, almost totally original take on holiday, trepidation fare.

    In conclusion, I decided to look up all scary movies that take place on Christ’s birth. There aren’t a ton of them. With Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night being the only notables, it’s safe to say that Krampus might turn into a December cult favorite. Only time will tell. My rating: 3 stars.

    Of note: (Spoiler alert) the ending to Krampus is mildly confusing in that you experience all 98 minutes of it and wonder if everything was just a bad dream. In hindsight, I suppose this was the right way to wrap things up. With the PG-13 rating presented, it’s probably appropriate that every character didn’t end up dying (chiefly the women and the children). In truth, the metaphors for this film really speak volumes. If you don’t believe in the magic of holy day and adhere to the fine art of misbehaving, well the demons with claws aplenty are hastily coming to get ya. Make note on that!

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog:

  • “He’s is always ragging on Christmas. He even told the first graders that Santa was just a cheap marketing ploy invented to sell Pepsi.”

    “Krampus” was a movie I was really looking forward to. Partly because I picked up a radio report about a ban in some Austrian villages to use this folklore figure (I had never heard of it by the way) and his assistants. And partly because I was curious how a horror Christmas movie would look like. It’s something different than the annual traditional Christmas junk we see on the tube. I was a little bit disappointed about this film, because the horror level is pitifully low. It was amusing though, on some level. Unfortunately it wasn’t really the Krampus who predominated this movie, but rather his vicious little helpers. And those helpers really looked like dressed up villagers who just returned from a “Krampus” festivity in some tiny Austrian village. I’m just not sure yet whether Krampus has something to do with Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas.

    The first part of the movie was matchless. Those slow-motion images during the opening credits where a Christmas shopping frenzy is being portrayed. That fighting mass of buyers rolling over each other. The security guards using their stun guns. Salespersons tumbling from ladders. And fighting children during the Christmas recital. Brilliant although slightly exaggerated. But believe me, this is how I feel about the others during Christmas shopping. The most important person here is Max (Emjay Anthony), who still believes in Christmas. He’s surrounded by his caring parents Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni “Miss you already” Collette), his older sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and his Omi (Krista Stadler). The latter is a very cuddly grandmother and the personification of Christmas. Max has just one wish. He wishes that Christmas would be again like yesteryear. A cozy, warm family celebration, full of joy and affection. That wish is pretty much ruined the moment Sarah’s sister shows up, with in her wake a moronic, antisocial family. A tactless guy, possessed by weapons. Two ludicrous daughters who look like solid quarterbacks and urinate while standing. A lazy, fat, stupid looking son whose only goal in life is to eat everything he can get his hands on. And as icing on the cake, an alcoholic, pedantic aunt. This colorful mixed bag of individuals are the cause of some chaotic situations, the moment they arrive there as an unwanted winter storm. The situation escalates completely after Max tears apart his Christmas letter with his wish written on. And that’s the signal for Krampus to appear.

    This hilarious part was magnificent. Extremely funny, perhaps bland but hugely recognizable. I’m sure every family has a bunch of relatives like those of Max. What’s intended to be a period of peacefulness, self-reflection and affection, sometimes ends up here and there in a family quarrel with old feuds being stirred up and feelings of jealousy taking the upper hand once again. The result is that there’s hardly anything left of the traditional Christmas feeling. And that’s why Krampus and his helpers show up. Not to reward anybody like Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus do. But to penalize those who don’t believe in Christmas anymore.

    And that’s where the horror starts or should start, because it isn’t really creepy or frightening. Don’t expect scary, gory scenes. It looks more like a Christmas version of “Goosebumps”. The fact they made it in such a way, so young people could watch it too, probably has something to do with it. Although it’s sometimes very exciting and thrilling. And the SE-department did a great job. The neighborhood which is turned into an icy landscape looks excellent. And the furious Krampus walking over the rooftops with the additional dismal sounds of rattling chains and ringing bells, looks also impressive. Only those creatures terrorizing the whole family, are just comical instead of terrifying. Krampus his imposing stature is seen repeatedly. Unfortunately we can only admire his phiz at the end. When talking about the comic-part of this movie, you can say it’s kind of successful. But the horror is just like the Christmas spirit in this film, totally absent.

    More reviews here :

  • Everyone in the world may not celebrate it, but during December, many countries and cultures around the world celebrate Christmas. As heard through several mediums, it is the season of giving and being joyous. However it is important to note that this isn’t the only time people should be merry with each other. The attitude should be carried out as much as possible; but this is far from the case. In various circumstances there have been incidents where people are not nice to each other. This is most commonly found among consumers in popular shopping malls or more relatably at home where family members must confront other members that just aren’t worth it. These are norms that many people will not acknowledge or bother to recognize because many do not want to confront it. They are however apart of today’s culture and things many people have to deal with. Of course there are also some that just want to escape it all, but be careful what you wish for. That is at least according to writer/director Michael Dougherty.

    Seeing he made such a cult classic with his Halloween holiday horror film Trick R’ Treat (2007), it’s no surprise he produced another holiday horror film except this time for Christmas. Written by Dougherty, Todd Casey and Zach Shields, the story follows Santa-believer Max Engel (Emjay Anthony), a boy trying to enjoy the holiday. Problem is everyone around him except his loving parents Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette) feel the exact opposite. When family members arrive and start annoying him, Max makes a wish for them to all go away. Little does he realize it would be his last wish he ever asked for. By doing this he has released the Christmas devil known as Krampus into his small neighborhood. Script wise the plot strikes a poignant note when it comes to morals. Overall, be grateful and don’t wish for any harm because the end result may be far worse than what was wanted. The idea itself of Santa’s shadow being heavily maniacal is ridiculous but nevertheless true when comparing it to karma.

    There are however some minor plot holes that don’t make sense. When Krampus arrives, he also makes several other people vanish as well (very quickly). It’s understandable that he is supernatural but his speed seems limited. Also there are some motivational contradictions for the holiday demon. When such creatures are summoned, most have a set of rules to follow but it seems as though Krampus doesn’t or at least not consistently. Aside from this though, the acting is all done well by every cast member. Even the less important characters like Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell), Howard (David Koechner), Linda (Allison Tolman) and Grandma Omi (Krista Stadler) all have development in one way or another. And although this is a horror film, there are also several moments of comedic value to experience. Some of these occasions take place either when family members exchange certain lines or their reactions to preposterous situations. This is surprising considering the tone is more serious than comedic.

    As for horror, that’s another gift in itself. Sadly the gore isn’t as high as one would expect since Dougherty did make Trick R’ Treat (2007), but believe it or not, it still works. There are several things to enjoy about the way Dougherty handles the movie. For much of the running time, Krampus is hidden in the background. The image of the creature itself is disturbing – with a hunchback, giant horns and rickety sounding joints. Adding to that is a bunch of other creative holiday ghouls that are just so ugly its amazing to see. The way it’s presented is through a mix of CGI and practical effects but most of it looks practical. This is excellent because the degree of detail on these monsters look spectacular. Who knew such regular everyday items could be so hideous. Aside from the level of gore, the only other thing that may disappoint horror fans is the level of horror it takes its viewers. Perhaps this is because of its rating but it just isn’t that scary. The horror and imagery is great but there’s nothing to fear. Thankfully there aren’t a lot of stings.

    Cinematography was another different experience thanks to Jules O’Loughlin. Rarely do horror films change their setting when it comes to execution. However this is different since it takes place in the middle of a snowstorm. How often does one think about the horrors of dying in the cold? O’Loughlin’s skill also works very well with how the scenes are shot. Much of it has him capturing large amounts of the house’s interior to show what’s around. There are even some slow motion shots for comedic value. On a side note there’s also a short stop-motion animated segment that is impressively put together as well. Kudos to that. As for music, Douglas Pipes’ film score is another great audio effort. The composition is a mix of a few comedic and several horror cues that lift the main theme from classic Christmas songs. The difference is, Pipes puts them into a minor key. The score itself is well constructed with regular orchestra, Christmas bells, tribal drums, horns and church bells. A great sounding holiday horror score.

    Although it may miss a few exposition points when it comes to consistency, the overall product is a unique holiday horror film. Krampus is truly an iconic monster smartly brought to life with relatable writing, creepy monsters and fantastic music.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

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