A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Krampus is a Christmas-themed horror movie that blends scares with humor and genuine warmth. The main character is a boy who believes in Christmas and in family but temporarily loses heart. Although the story has a fairly dark, somewhat ambiguous ending that may be upsetting for sensitive viewers, fans of "alternative" holiday fare are likely to enjoy it. Scary/violent elements include monsters and fighting, guns and shooting, as well as children in peril and some shocking/frightening imagery. Language includes one use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole" (the latter spoken by a child). There's some adult drinking, mainly played for humor, as well as a child taking a sip of peppermint Schnapps (given to him by an adult) and a quick reference to a teen smoking pot (he holds up a Christmas-themed bong). Sex isn't an issue, but a married couple does show affection to each other.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
During a stressful Christmas season, young Max (Emjay Anthony) is struggling to maintain his belief in Santa Claus. When his loudmouth relatives come to visit, Max's nasty cousins find his letter to Santa and tease him at the dinner table. In tears, Max rips up the letter and sends the pieces out into the winter night. Unfortunately, this brings on the other spirit of Christmas, the dark shadow of St. Nicholas known as Krampus. In the midst of a blizzard, Krampus and his evil helpers descend upon the neighborhood. It's up to Max's dad (Adam Scott), mom (Toni Collette), uncle (David Koechner), and aunt (Allison Tolman) to set aside their differences and band together. But only Max's grandmother (Krista Stadler) knows the demon's true nature.
Is it any good?
While the idea of a Christmas-themed horror movie might sound strange, KRAMPUS has a very appealing mix of humor and scares. It also has a pretty dark ending, but before that comes, there's undeniable warmth and holiday spirit. Director/co-writer Michael Dougherty also made the very good Halloween movie Trick 'r Treat (2007), and he doesn't disappoint here. Krampus starts with a cynical touch and some big laughs, but it quickly finds its heart in Max, who truly wants to believe in Santa Claus -- and in his family. The movie sets the family members up as comic opposites but finds the good in both sides.
When the scary stuff comes, the monsters are menacing, but they also have a fun quality, not unlike those in the Gremlins movies. The movie sometimes gets lost in all its monster fights, but then the ominous, somewhat ambiguous ending ties everything together. Krampus may be too much for sensitive viewers, but lovers of alternative holiday viewing will rejoice.
Talk to your kids about ...
Some of the movie's adult characters seem to drink excessively. Do they enjoy it? If not, why do you think they're drinking? Is it portrayed as funny or serious? What message does that send?
Why does Max believe in Santa Claus? Why do people make fun of him for loving Christmas?
Where does the Krampus myth come from? How old is it? What might its purpose have been? Does the movie seem truthful to the actual legend?
- In theaters: December 4, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: April 26, 2016
- Cast: Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony
- Director: Michael Dougherty
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of horror violence/terror, language and some drug material
- Last updated: March 11, 2020
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