When the Krampus Movie came out in 2015, I pretty much knew that it was going to be... not great. I'm not a huge fan of horror films to begin with, but I do love fantasy and I do love Krampus. The 2015 film, Krampus is classified as fantasy, comedy, horror. I first watched it together with my husband at our home. I wasn't super enthused about the choice, but... I had the last pick and he sat through Trolls, so... I watched 'Krampus'.

Skip ahead:
Krampus Movie Synopsis
My Hot Takes
Oh Snap! There are MORE Krampus Movies from 2015?
But wait... there's MORE?!
Inaccuracy and Americanization: Missing the Mark on Krampus
Conclusion: Deck the Halls with Howls of Horror

image of the 2015 Krampus Movie poster

image source: http://www.broadsheet.ie/2015/09/11/broadsheet-trailer-park-krampus/

Krampus Movie Synopsis

In the 2015 horror-comedy film "Krampus," directed by Michael Dougherty, a dysfunctional suburban family descends into chaos during the Christmas season. The film opens with a stark portrayal of the frenzied holiday shopping madness, setting the stage for the impending mayhem.

Young Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) is the last believer in the Christmas spirit within his family, despite the mounting tension between his parents Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), his sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), and his visiting Aunt Linda (Allison Tolman) and her boorish family.

The movie starts off with a typical dysfunctional family during the holidays trying to get along, but end up pissed off at each other. Following a disastrous Christmas Eve dinner the little boy (max), who I suppose you could say is the main character, sees this hot mess of a holiday and thus looses his Christmas spirit. Since Max's belief in the magic of Christmas is shattered it prompts him to tear up and write a heartfelt letter to Santa Claus... and apparently this is enough to unleash the wrath of Krampus down on the entire family.

Soon, a blizzard envelopes their neighborhood, cutting off all communication and trapping the family in their home. Mysterious happenings escalate, such as the disappearance of their power and the appearance of strange, cloven hoofed footprints in the snow.

As the family confronts the terror that lurks outside, they must band together to survive the nightmarish onslaught unleashed by Krampus. Twisted, demonic versions of beloved Christmas icons, such as malevolent gingerbread men and a carnivorous teddy bear, wreak havoc on the household.

The family's desperate struggle for survival is punctuated by moments of dark humor, as they use improvised weapons and creative tactics to fend off Krampus' sinister minions.

As the night wears on and the family fights to stay alive, Max makes a selfless gesture of sacrifice, hoping to appease Krampus and save his loved ones. The film's climax unfolds with a blend of heart-wrenching emotion and adrenaline-pumping action, culminating in a shocking twist that leaves viewers questioning the true nature of Krampus' punishment.

In the aftermath, Max awakens in his bed on Christmas morning, uncertain if the night's events were real or a fevered dream. The film leaves the audience with an eerie sense of uncertainty, hinting that the boundary between the festive and the frightful may be thinner than it seems.

"Krampus" (2015) offers a unique and entertaining twist on the holiday horror genre, blending dark comedy, genuine scares, and a touch of heart.

close up a of a demented looking teddy bear with sharp teeth and evil eyes
image source: http://manapop.com/film/krampus-2015-review/

My Hot Takes

Let's start with the fact that Krampus doesn't actually "unleash" anything. So... this giant angry gingerbread cookie come to life and attacking family members, evil teddy bears also come to life and eat people... I dunno, it's weird and totally unrelated to the actual legend of Krampus.

The best part of the movie is the Oma. Her lines are all in German and they're great. I did enjoy the bits and pieces of German thrown in... and the snide comments from Aunt Dorothy played by Conchata Ferrell are top notch! Her snark and sarcasm make me laugh, which was good considering I spent most of the film with some serious side eye.


Gif from the krampus movie of aunt dorothy shooting some creepy creature in their living room

image source: https://123wtf.me/2016/03/28/wtf-krampus-2015/

Let's talk about the Krampus (the whole point of the movie if you ask me.) Krampus just looked like an old creepy-ass Santa Claus with horns. It beard and the white human skin tone was pretty gross and was not reminiscent of any Krampus creatures I've ever seen.

There is the argument that he kinda looks like...

Knecht Ruprecht

Knecht Ruprecht, also known as "Farmhand Rupert" or "Servant Rupert," is a figure from Germanic folklore associated with Christmas traditions. In various regional customs, Knecht Ruprecht is a companion of Saint Nicholas (instead of Krampus) who assists in determining whether children have been naughty or nice throughout the year. Dressed in tattered clothing and carrying a bundle of switches or a bag of coal, Knecht Ruprecht serves as the disciplinary counterpart to Saint Nicholas' benevolence.

But trust me, he's not here for your excuses. In some versions of the story, he might toss a bone to the well-behaved, but let's face it, he's all about tough love. This contrasting duality embodies the age-old belief that during the holiday season, both kindness and consequences play a role in shaping behavior. Over the years, Knecht Ruprecht has become a fascinating and complex character in the rich tapestry of Christmas folklore.

Anyway... back to this silly Krampus film. He might look a little like what i imagine Knecht Ruprecht would look like, but he has a brown or black tattered clock, not red. Finally seeing Krampus at the end was a pretty big disappointment for me.

a krampus figurine from the film krampus that makes krampus look like a creepy old santa claus with horns.
image source: http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Krampus_(Krampus)


image of krampus and max from the krampus movie

Krampus movie image

Oh Snap! There are MORE Krampus Movies from 2015?

There are! Are they better than this one... I would argue no. For someone who enjoys the legend of Krampus and seeing footage of Krampuslaufen from Germany and Austria... they are equally odd and disappointing. So here we go:

Krampus: The Reckoning

Ah, the perils of a hastily-crafted cash-in on the Krampus craze. "Krampus: The Reckoning" (2015) serves as a stark reminder that not all holiday horrors are created equal. This low-budget affair tries to ride the coattails of the previous year's success but lacks the substance to keep audiences engaged.

This (not quite yuletide classic) film seems to have confused "Krampus" with a run-of-the-mill supernatural thriller, swapping genuine scares for lackluster jump-scares. The snark here is less intentional wit and more incredulous head-scratching at the missed potential.

A Christmas Horror Story

Now, if you're craving more holiday horror movies, "A Christmas Horror Story" (2015) is the gift that keeps on giving. This anthology film weaves together four chilling tales, with Krampus emerging as the shadowy thread that binds them.

The snarky brilliance here lies in the audaciousness of combining the jolly festive spirit and the macabre. Picture Santa Claus duking it out with Krampus, all while a high school Christmas party devolves into chaos. It's just so silly

Two people smiling wearing krampus t-shirts in front of someone dressed as a Krampus

But wait... there's MORE?!

Yes... there are. Here is a full list of all the movies featuring Krampus in recent years, but please note that while Krampus is a central figure in these films, the quality and adherence to the Krampus folklore may vary. It's always a good idea to check out reviews or trailers to determine which movie aligns best with your preferences.

  1. Krampus (2015) - Directed by Michael Dougherty, this horror-comedy film follows a dysfunctional family who must survive the wrath of Krampus and his malevolent minions during Christmas staring Adam Scott and Toni Collette.
  2. Krampus: The Reckoning (2015) - This low-budget horror film involves a young girl who seems to be haunted by a malevolent force resembling Krampus.
  3. A Christmas Horror Story (2015) - An anthology film that weaves together four interconnected stories of terror, with one of the segments featuring a showdown between Santa Claus and Krampus.
  4. Krampus Unleashed (2016) - A straight-to-DVD horror film where a group of treasure hunters accidentally unleashes Krampus upon the world.
  5. Mother Krampus (2017) - Also known as "The 12 Deaths of Christmas," this horror film revolves around a vengeful Christmas witch who punishes the naughty.
  6. Krampus: The Devil Returns (2016) - A sequel to the 2015 film "Krampus: The Reckoning," this movie continues the story of a girl tormented by the Krampus entity.
  7. Krampus Origins (2018) - Set in World War I, this film explores the origins of Krampus and his connection to a group of soldiers.
  8. Krampus: A Haunted Christmas (2019) - In this low-budget horror film, a group of friends inadvertently summon Krampus while trying to celebrate Christmas.

Inaccuracy and Americanization: Missing the Mark on Krampus

While all of these Krampus films may serve up a heaping helping of holiday horror, it's essential to note that they take quite a few creative liberties with the original legend. The Alpine folklore of Krampus is steeped in centuries-old traditions, far removed from the Americanized, jump-scare laden spectacles we find in these movies. The nuanced complexities of the legend are often flattened to fit the tastes of a broader, predominantly American audience, leaving purists yearning for a more authentic interpretation.

Krampus mask outside of a church in europe

Conclusion: Deck the Halls with Howls of Horror

In the grand tradition of Christmas spirit and holiday-themed horror films, the Krampus movies have carved out a niche that marries mirth with mayhem, snark with scares. These glorious legends are very clearly being manipulated to appease an audience looking for something other than real tradition and authenticity. Plainly put... not my favorite films, but I do enjoy all the notoriety and attention Krampus has been getting in recent years.

So, as you cozy up by the fire this holiday season, remember to keep one eye on the chimney and the other on the shadows. After all, Krampus might just be lurking, ready to add a touch of fear to your silent night.

Man dressed as St. Nikolaus next to two women wearing dirndls and a person dressed as Krampus

Did you see these movies? What did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these holiday horror movies in the comments below.

Do you love the legend of Krampus and wish you had a T-shirt with him on it or some stickers? I thought so, click here to shop our Krampus Collection

November 10, 2017 — Erika Neumayer

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