“Krampus – An Alternative Holiday Film”

The day after Thanksgiving, is a day you will never find yours truly at a mall or major shopping center. I have no desire to get crushed in a sea of frenetic humanity. Furthermore, I don’t want to engage in a scuffle over an item that I and a number of other people want, some of whom, at that time of year, are seemingly willing to forego physical safety, if need be. If there is something that I have wanted to acquire, I will simply wait until the store has re-stocked the item, or it becomes available on-line. Before some of you collectors who are reading this pipe up, I am fully aware, that there are certain collectibles, everything from action figures to sneakers, for those of you who consider themselves sneakerheads, that are produced only in limited quantities. If you’re a collector, among the throngs at the stores the day after Thanksgiving, seeking your limited collectable, I completely understand.

The start of the film “Krampus” begins with a retail store opening its doors for holiday shopping. No sooner do the doors open, than people rush in, and begin to grab everything in sight. The lines are long, and so are the faces of those waiting to make their purchases. All the while, the song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby, can be heard as the chaos transpires on screen. (As an aside: “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” was written by Meredith Wilson, and published by Plymouth Music on October 1, 1951). 

Max (Emjay Anthony) is a child who believes in Santa Claus, and is doing his best to embrace the Christmas spirit. He’s the opposite of his sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen), who would rather hang out with her boyfriend, Derek (Leith Towers), than spend time with her family. Max’s father, Tom, played by two time Emmy nominee Adam Scott (Severance), and his mother, Sarah, portrayed by Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Toni Collette (United States of Tara), are also lacking, when it comes to being caught up in the festivities of the season. Tom, even though he promised his family he wouldn’t work, is still taking work related phone calls, and Sarah is stressed out about the impending arrival of her family, who will be staying for a few days. Max’s only ally, in attempting to maintain the family Christmas traditions, is his grandmother, Omi (Krista Stadler), who has busied herself making cookies.

Sarah’s family arrives, but it doesn’t seem to help Max gain any allies in regard to celebrating the season. His uncle Howard, played by David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy), comes across as a macho man’s man, whose presence in the film will lend itself to comic relief. Max’s great aunt Dorothy, portrayed by three time Emmy winner Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men), starts imbibing from the moment she enters the house, and acts as if she would rather be somewhere else, even though she has nowhere else to go. There is also his aunt Linda, Howard’s wife, a role acted by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Allison Tolman (Fargo). She’s not a dour person, but with four children to look after, she’s not particularly festive either. Her children are Howie, Jr (Maverick Flack), who seems incapable of speaking when asked direct questions; the twin sisters, Jordan (Queenie Samuel), and Stevie (Lola Owen), who come across as mean spirited to Max, actually ripping a letter he has written to Santa out of his hands, in an effort to embarrass him; and lastly, the harmless baby, Chrissy (Sage Hunefeld).

Having had enough of his and his extended family’s dysfunction, a frustrated Max retreats to his bedroom. He tears up his letter to Santa, and tosses the pieces out the window. He will soon come to regret his decision. Moments afterward it would seem a blizzard blankets the neighborhood he lives in, and strange things begin to occur. Omi, who was born and raised in Austria, knows what is taking place. She provides a voice over narration to an animated sequence. In her narration, she explains that when she was a child, one year during the holidays, she lost her spirit. When that happened, it summoned Krampus. Max’s actions have also summoned the evil entity, which is the polar opposite of Santa Claus. When Krampus (Luke Hawker) arrives, the person who summons him, gets to witness the demise of their family and loved ones. Krampus is not alone. Unlike Santa and his flying reindeer and toy making elves, Krampus is accompanied by an assortment of helpers that come in the guise of toys, as well as creatures. They move fast, and leave destruction in their path. Is there a way to stop Krampus and his evil brood? Can Max undo the actions that has put his family in dire peril?

“Krampus” was directed by Michael Dougherty (Superman Returns). Dougherty co-wrote the screenplay with Todd Casey (Avengers Assemble), and Zach Shields (Godzilla vs. Kong). The film premiered on November 30, 2015, in Hollywood, California. Parts comedy, drama, fantasy, and horror, the movie has a runtime of 98 minutes.

Trivia buffs take note: The character of Krampus was not created for the film, but is actually an integral part of Austrian and German folklore. “Krampus” was scheduled to be released on November 25, 2015, but was pushed back to December 4, 2015, in order to coincide with Krampusnacht. The morbidly themed, traditional Austrian holiday, is held annually to celebrate the arrival of Krampus who is coming to punish children who have misbehaved. Furthermore in southern Germany, they have what is called the ‘Krampus Runs,’ where adult men dress up as Krampus and parade throughout the streets in an attempt to scare children. Omni is the only character in the film that refers to Krampus by name. At the start of the movie, playing on the television in the kitchen is a scroll during a newscast which says “Season’s Greetings.” Director Michael Dougherty used the title “Season’s Greetings” for his  1996 animated short film, which first introduced the character of Sam, who would later be used as the evil, Halloween spirit in the 2007 film “Trick ‘r Treat.”

“Krampus” takes the traditional holiday dysfunctional family comedy and flips it. The direction the filmmakers took is entertaining, and offers viewers, who have had their fill of holiday movies and animated specials, an alternative. The violence that Krampus and his helpers unleash, is for the most part, implied and not shown. The cast as a whole did good work with their respective roles. The look of Krampus  and the creatures were well designed. The one aspect of the film some viewers might not like, is that the ending is open to interpretation. As of the writing of this post “Krampus” is streaming on Peacock.


About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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2 Responses to “Krampus – An Alternative Holiday Film”

  1. Love this movie, alongside Batman Returns this has become annual holiday viewing. Thanks for the review, and Happy New Year! 🙂

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