Krampus Review: Beware of Santa’s Dark Shadow


Krampus starts off with a stereotypical scene of a mob rushing into a big box store on what appears to be a big sale only to be seen tearing items away from each other and fighting over the merchandise while Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is heard over the speakers.  Meanwhile, preteen Max (Emjay Anthony) is engaged in a fight during a passion play because he’s upset that a bully is telling the first grade kids that Santa isn’t real.

Max’s gun and football loving uncle Howard (David Koechner) and aunt Linda (Allison Tolman) come to Max’s father, Tom (Adam Scott) and mother Sarah’s (Toni Collete) house for the holiday with their chubby children (Maverick Flack, Queenie Samuel and Lolo Owen) and old alcoholic Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell).    The children steal a letter that Max has written to Santa Claus and ridicule him.  Max, who just wants things to be the way they used to be between his parents and who hasn’t exactly been a good child the past year in a moment of being upset goes to his bedroom, rips up the letter and throws it out the window.


All of  sudden there’s a blizzard and all the lights in the neighborhood go out.  The set dressing with a palette of whites and grays will really chill you even in a warm theater.  Max’s sister Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) leaves the house to check on her boyfriend.  After not arriving back home when she was expected a concerned Tom and Howard go looking for her.  Howard is attacked by something that crawls under the snow.

When they get back to the house, Beth still missing, Max’s wise old grandmother Omi (Krista Stadler) who speaks in German tells everyone about a mythical creature who is the shadow of Santa Claus who come when children  are naughty and/or have lost the meaning of Christmas.  The childhood story of her being visited by Krampus is a nice interlude done in animation.


Director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘R Treat) seems to have taken some inspiration from both Gremlins and Poltergeist.  Once again, like Sam from Trick ‘R Treat, Dougherty has created an almost likable protagonist.  Soon Krampus’s minions invade the home and attack.  True horror fans might not find the film that scary, but scenes of gingerbread men attacking with a nail gun and a giant, child-eating Jack in the Box are definitely entertaining.  Eventually the family is even attacked by proverbial evil elves.

Krampus is not seen much in the movie until the end, but when he is he moves either under the snow or by jumping around rooftops.  The film relies more on puppetry and costumes rather than CGI.


A Pagan-like sacrifice leaves it up to Max to regain the spirit of Christmas to save his family.  The ending is sentimental and may remind you of other Christmas favorites such as “Home Alone”.  There’s different interpretations of how the movie ends, but we don’t want to give any spoilers.  We were thoroughly entertained by the movie and would definitely recommend it.



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