Krampus Origins

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Krampus Origins Movie Poster Image
Cheesy, low-budget horror prequel has blood, violence.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 86 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 


Demon attacks nuns and a priest, leaving them dead and dripping blood. Bullies in an orphanage beat up a student with a stutter. War violence -- soldiers firing weapons are shot and killed. Demonic imagery. 


A bully teen in an orphanage, circa 1917, is shown looking at a magazine of black-and-white photos of topless women. Two bullies in an orphanage sneak out of their room and spy on the pretty new teacher as she begins taking off her clothes (no nudity). One of the bullies, in reference to the new teacher, says, "She'd do in a pinch." This same bully tells one of his female classmates that he had a dream about her in which she was naked. 


Infrequent mild profanity: "Damn," "hell." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An alcoholic elderly priest is drunk in every scene, drinking shots of whiskey with the cook of the orphanage, too drunk to give a sermon during mass, sneaking alcohol from a flask in other scenes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Krampus Origins is a 2018 horror movie showing how a book of spells that unleashes a beast of pure evil made its way from Europe to North America during World War I. While the demon, when it finally appears in the final third of the movie, looks low-budget and sounds like the bad-guy monsters in Scooby-Doo cartoons, there's a chance that this demonic imagery might be too much for younger viewers. Adult characters are killed by the demon; some blood. A priest in an orphanage is drunk in every scene. Two bullies beat up a fellow student with a stutter, and they also spy through the cracked door of the pretty new teacher as she starts to take off her clothes (no nudity). One of these bullies is also shown looking at black-and-white photos of topless women in an old-time magazine, and making two sexually suggestive comments. There's some war violence: soldiers shot and killed in battle. 

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What's the story?

KRAMPUS ORIGINS begins in the French countryside during World War I, as an American soldier, in the aftermath of a battle, finds a mysterious ancient book of spells. He puts it in his knapsack, and is shot and killed by the Germans shortly after. Meanwhile, in the Arizona Territory, the soldier's wife, Josephine, has arrived at an orphanage to begin work as a teacher for the children. Shortly after her arrival, a representative of the US Army arrives to deliver the devastating news that her husband was killed in the war. She's given the belongings he had at the time of his death, including the knapsack and the book of spells. One of the orphans finds the book and steals it. She reads aloud one of the spells, thus conjuring the Krampus, a demon of pure evil. The orphan and her boyfriend disappear, and no one knows for sure what happened to them. Suddenly, a mysterious and sullen boy named Nicholas shows up on their doorstep. Only a maid with some knowledge of witchcraft, potions, and incantations senses that something is wrong. Josephine cannot leave the orphanage because it's almost Christmas and all the trains are shut down for the holiday. She soon finds the nuns and the priests dead, as more students go missing. Now Josephine, the maid, and the students who haven't been attacked by the Krampus yet must find the powers that will rid the world of the Krampus before it's too late. 

Is it any good?

This is one of those low-budget horror movies that's almost too cheesy to be scary for most older teens. The demon itself, when it finally appears, looks like something made out of papier-mâché and has an "evil" voice reminiscent of the voices that the bad guys in Scooby-Doo cartoons affect when trying to put one over on "those meddling kids." While the acting isn't bad, the dialogue is clunky and amateurish. The story itself tries to be one of those "slow-burn" horror movies where the suspense slowly builds until the final act is all chaos and mayhem, but the burn is too slow and too dull, with the payoff of the cheesy monster being no payoff at all. 

Often low-budget horror movies have some humor and self-awareness to make up for the lack of money. Krampus Origins is one of those low-budget horror movies that's unintentionally funny, especially when the special effects come into play. The campy nature makes it somewhat entertaining, but the journey to get there is a drab trip through a mostly gray orphanage, replete with clichéd character types like alcoholic priests, severe nuns, weaselly bullies and their stuttering victims, and the maid with a profound interest in mysticism and spells. Horror fans can find better thrills and chills elsewhere. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about horror movies. How does Krampus Origins compare to other horror movies you've seen? 

  • How did the movie try to take its time in building up the suspense before the demon started to attack? What are some other examples of horror movies that build suspense before getting to the scary moments? 

  • How did this movie attempt to evoke the World War I time period through dress, speech, music, and posters? 

Movie details

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