‘Krampus’ is a fun Christmas surprise

“Krampus,” is like a Christmas gift from a cool uncle: nice, but not exactly what you wanted. 

“Krampus,” directed by Michael Dougherty and starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette, gives viewers an excellent dark, horror comedy that ends up lacking any punch.


Max, a young boy who still believes in Santa Claus, is having his holiday season ruined once again by terrible cousins. Frustrated at the lack of holiday spirit, he rips up his letter to Santa in anger.

Unfortunately, this brings the wrath of Krampus, a demon known as the shadow of St. Nicholas, who causes terror to those ruining Christmas. Max and his family must come together and try survive the holiday demon. 

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PG or PG-13 horror movies are hit or miss. For every classic like “The Ring” or “Poltergeist,” a dozen mediocre films like “The Fog” or “Darkness Falls” come around.

The restraints of the rating can help focus a horror film by making them use more subtle techniques, but usually end up just restricting what makes the genre so great.

“Krampus” is a film in need of a little less control.

The lack of normal horror movie mayhem is probably most significant problem this movie has. With a PG-13 rating, a lot of the action has no finality and no stakes, and the movie is limited.


A conservative rating can work, like in the work of Joe Dante, a filmmaker this film often pays homage to in style. But, Dougherty is unable to capture the same thrills and tension in “Krampus” that a Dante movie such as “Gremlins” did.

However, this movie is a fantastic horror comedy. 

It works wonders when trying to be comedic. By enlisting the talents of comedians like Scott, David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell, the film shows its intentions from the first scenes of its tongue in cheek nature.

Adding in bits of humor with horror elements help make this movie entertaining. Some of the film’s best scenes involve ridiculous terror, like killer gingerbread men.

When not using computer-generated imagery like gingerbread men, the film uses a lot of practical effects that make each creature interesting and unique. The majority of the creatures, including Krampus, are people in elaborate suits or creations on set. 

This makes a lot of difference when it comes believability. CGI can look great, and practical effects can fail on any movie, but on a small film, computer animation is less lifelike.

For all of its bonkers ideas, even something as crazy as a killer Jack in the Box feels organic and real.  

Stars: 3 out of 5. 

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE.