Krampus | Film review - Dark version of Santa Claus lets rips in festive horror comedy

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Conjuring up the tongue-in-cheek malevolence of Gremlins, family horror-comedy Krampus unleashes a cloven-hoofed monster and his evil minions upon a squabbling American family after a disgruntled 12-year-old boy rips up his letter to Santa on Christmas Eve.

Festive spirit is in short supply when the well-heeled Engel family’s redneck poor relations turn up mob-handed for the holiday, but things turn from bad to cursed after the aghast Max (Emjay Anthony), convinced Christmas is ruined, destroys his missive to Santa.

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(Image credit: Steve Unwin)

As Max’s wise Austrian grandmother (Krista Stadler) subsequently explains, his loss of faith in Christmas provokes the arrival of the monstrous Krampus - a dark version of Santa Claus derived from Alpine folklore – whose army of vicious snowmen, elves, toys and even gingerbread men proceed to wreak havoc, attacking and abducting members of the extended family in the midst of a freak snowstorm that has cuts them off from the outside world.

Amid the mayhem, Toni Collette and Adam Scott do sterling stuff as Max’s beleaguered mom and dad, but the film belongs to the monsters, splendidly realised by a combination of puppetry, costumes and CGI.

Certificate 15. Runtime 98 mins. Director Michael Dougherty

Krampus is available on Blu-ray & DVD from Universal Pictures.

Special Features


•       10 minutes additional bonus content (TBC)

•       Gag reel

 2D Blu-ray

•       Alternate ending

•       Feature commentary

•       Gag reel

•       Krampus comes alive!

•       Behind the scenes at WETA workshop

•       Galleries

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.