Krampus Parent Review

Omi's (Grandma) wise words encouraging gift-giving and sacrifice are all the warmth this Christmas movie has to offer. The rest is utter stupidity.

Overall D+

Good behavior during the Christmas season takes on a whole new sense of urgency when an evil spirit is sent to punish those who fail to toe the line.

Violence D+
Sexual Content B
Profanity D
Substance Use C-

Krampus is rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material.

Movie Review

For many a generation, parents have attempted to bribe good behavior and discourage bad by telling their children that Santa keeps a naughty and nice list. While the promise of presents and treats for good little boys and girls is rather universal, the North American threat of a lump of coal is surpassed in some other cultures. In Germany for instance, there is a more sinister tradition. They talk of Krampus, a half-goat, half-fiend figure with large horns, long claws, lots of hair, bells and chains that comes to carry the misbehaving off to the underworld. And it is this mythical creature – the antithesis of Saint Nick—that is about to make an appearance at the festive gathering of a dysfunctional US family.

Max (Emjay Anthony) is in the twilight of his childhood. Encouraged by his German grandma Omi (Krista Stadler) to believe in Santa, the boy writes a letter to the North Pole resident. But before he can mail it, his redneck relatives arrive and his rough-and-tumble cousins (Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel and Maverick Flack) begin teasing him about his foolish faith. It is the last straw for the youngster who is already discouraged by the lack of family love and the over-commercialization of the holiday. In a fit of temper, he tears his note up and throws it to the wind with a wish for something different. And he gets what he asks for.

Although Max doesn’t recognize the significance of the ensuing blizzard, power blackout and loss of telephone signals, Omi does. It turns out she has been through a visit from Krampus before. However her wise words about the importance of keeping the Christmas spirit alive through the miracle of gift-giving and sacrifice are ignored as quickly as is her admonition to keep the flames burning hot in the fireplace. And all are about to suffer for ignoring her advice.

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If you decide to watch this movie, you will suffer too. Those few poetic lines are all the warmth this yuletide tale has to offer. The rest is utter stupidity. Demonizing all the trappings of the season, the supernatural beast blasts into town, unleashing jack-in-the boxes that swallow children, gingerbread men that lure away the unsuspecting and use weapons against the defiant, terrifying teddy bears that tear at the hapless, angles who fly at their victims and strangle them with strings of Christmas lights, and masked elves ready to kidnap anyone they can find. Some of the monsters are unseen, they just reach up from under the snow or come down the chimney and drag away the screaming unfortunate to an uncertain fate. Others are so ghoulish it is hard to tell what they are supposed to be, besides disturbing. This sort throws their captives into a pit of lava. While graphic and detailed, these depictions are also so ridiculous that even some of the characters exclaim, “I can’t believe it!”

And things get even more disgusting and gory when Uncle Howard and Aunt Linda (David Koechner and Allison Tolman) pull out the guns they’ve been packing in their Hummer, and show Max’s usually pacifist Dad and Mom (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) how to protect themselves by shooting the nasty predators. It doesn’t take long before everyone is trigger happy, and bullets are flying as frequently as the foul language (which includes two uses of the sexual expletive).

To temper the terror, the script throws in some rude humor and sexual innuendo, along with an unlikeable Great Aunt (Conchata Ferrell) who is always looking for booze and on one occasion secretly shares her drink with the kids. However such levity likely won’t prevent this Home Alone / Gremlins – like concoction from being too scary for the only audience young enough not to notice the production’s shortcoming.

Another thing that won’t go undetected is the irony of trying to use a horror movie starring a satanic character to try and scare up a better attitude about a Christian based holiday. Not surprisingly the heavy-handed fear tactics outweigh the light touches of warm sentiment in this film that doesn’t mention religion at all, with the exception of a scene where a child dressed like Joseph beats up another dressed as a reindeer. Nor can you argue that Dickens tried a similar approach in A Christmas Carol. In his classic tale, the benevolent ghosts appear in order to save Scrooge and warn him to change his ways before it’s too late. In this forgettable film, the malevolent specters are hell-bent on punishment, with no hope of redemption. And neither the characters’ meager realizations of their selfishness, nor the plot’s manipulative contrivances are likely to save anything – especially this script.

Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Emjay Anthony. Running time: 98 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Krampus here.

Krampus Parents Guide

How would you describe the spirit of Christmas? What does the holiday mean to you? Is religion part of your celebration? What happens to any society that forgets the importance of giving, sacrificing, and treating others kindly?

Dad says, “Family are people you try to be friends with, even when you don’t have much in common.” What do you think of his comments? What is wrong with the relationship of these family members? What things have distracted them form being involved in each other’s lives? How would you describe family? What things can you do to improve those relationships?

Learn more about the mythical Krampus.