Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Dougherty|
|Based on||Krampus from|
|Music by||Douglas Pipes|
|Edited by||John Axelrad|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$61.5 million|
Krampus is a 2015 American dark fantasy comedy horror film based on the eponymous character from Austro-Bavarian folklore, written and directed by Michael Dougherty, and co-written by Todd Casey and Zach Shields. The film stars Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, and Krista Stadler.
The concept for Krampus began in 2011, when Dougherty was planning to make a Christmas-themed horror film, with him and Shields writing the screenplay. Production on the film began in 2014, with Dougherty directing and writing a new screenplay with Shields and Casey. Casting call began from November 2014 to March 2015. Principal photography on the film began on March 12, 2015 and wrapped in May 2015. Creature effects were made by Weta Workshop.
Krampus was released in the United States on December 4, 2015 by Universal Pictures. It received mixed reviews, with many critics praising Scott and Collette's performances, the horror elements, and humor, with criticism for its tone and pacing. The film had grossed over $61 million, against a $15 million budget.
Three days before Christmas, the prosperous but dysfunctional Engel family gathers for Christmas. Max Engel remains a firm believer in Santa Claus and intends to send him a letter. His family includes his teenage sister Beth and their parents Tom and Sarah; his Aunt Linda and Uncle Howard; their children, Howie Jr., Stevie, Jordan, and baby Chrissie; Sarah and Linda's cantankerous Aunt Dorothy; and Tom's mother Omi, who speaks mostly German.
Max wants to continue family traditions, but tension among his relatives saps their Christmas spirit. When his cousins read out his letter to Santa and mock him for still believing, he fights with them and yells out that he hates his family and even Christmas. His father comforts him by telling him that even though there is chaos during the holidays, he should always love his family and he gives him his letter to Santa. In a fit of anger, Max tears up the letter and throws it to the wind outside and it's swept up into the sky. That night, a severe blizzard engulfs the town, causing a power outage. When Beth ventures out to check on her boyfriend, a large, horned creature chases her. She hides beneath a delivery truck, but the creature leaves a jack-in-the-box which attacks and captures her.
Tom and Howard leave to search for Beth. They find her boyfriend's house in ruins with the chimney split open and large goat-like hoof prints in the house. Outside, the two are attacked by an unseen monster under the snow. They return home and board up the windows. Later, a large hook with a living gingerbread man attached lures Howie Jr. to the chimney and he is dragged up the chimney despite the family's efforts to save him.
Omi explains that the creature hunting them is Krampus, an ancient demonic spirit who punishes those who have lost the Christmas spirit. Omi recounts that when she was a child, her parents and community lost their spirit due to the hardships of the war in Europe, as did she, which summoned Krampus. He dragged everyone except her to Hell, leaving behind a bell bauble with his name on it. The family remains skeptical until monstrous toys, hidden in presents delivered earlier, invade the house. Stevie and Jordan are lured to the attic by Beth’s voice; Jordan is swallowed by Der Klown, the jack-in-the-box from before. The family fends off the toys, but Krampus' elves leap in through a window, taking Dorothy, Howard, and Chrissie.
Tom decides that the family should flee to an abandoned snowplow on the streets outside. Omi sacrifices herself to distract Krampus, who emerges from the fireplace and attacks her with his bag of toys. Outside, Tom, Sarah, and Linda are dragged under the snow while Stevie is captured by the elves. Krampus confronts Max and gives him a bell bauble wrapped in a piece of his discarded letter. Max honestly apologizes for losing his spirit, and although Krampus seems to accept his apology, he still tosses Max into Hell.
Max awakens in his house on Christmas morning. Discovering his family alive and well downstairs, he thinks that what happened was just a nightmare. Then he unwraps a present containing Krampus' bauble, and the family realizes the horrors of Christmas Eve indeed occurred, but were spared by Krampus as to teach them to maintain faith in Christmas. Their house is shown being watched through a snow globe in Krampus' workshop, with the implication that if they lose their Christmas spirit again, he will return next year to punish them. The film ends with a jump scare by Krampus' elves and demonic toys.
- Emjay Anthony as Max Engel
- Adam Scott as Tom Engel
- Toni Collette as Sarah Engel
- David Koechner as Howard
- Allison Tolman as Linda
- Krista Stadler as Omi Engel
- Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy
- Stefania LaVie Owen as Beth Engel
- Lolo Owen as Stevie
- Queenie Samuel as Jordan
- Maverick Flack as Howie Jr.
- Mark Atkin as Ketkrókur
- Sage Hunefeld as Baby Chrissie
- Leith Towers as Derek
- Curtis Vowell as DHL Man
- Luke Hawker as Krampus (in-suit performer)
- Brett Beattie as Der Klown (Jack-in-the-box)
- Gideon Emery as Krampus
- Seth Green as Gingerbread Man Lumpy
- Breehn Burns as Gingerbread Man Dumpy
- Justin Roiland as Gingerbread Man Clumpy
- Ivy George as Perchta the Cherub
Dougherty had "always wanted to do a scary Christmas movie", but the idea did not take form until his friends sent him an e-card featuring the Krampus creature which was, according to him "just love at first sight." Although this, according to Dougherty, happened in "the ancient times of the internet" the project would not be fleshed out until 2011, at which point he would team up with Zach Shields and Todd Casey to figure out the story.
The film was originally scheduled a release date for November 25, 2015, but was moved to December 4, 2015.
An original graphic novel titled Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas was released on November 25, 2015 by Legendary Entertainment. The comic is written by Brandon Seifert and features stories by writer/director Michael Dougherty and movie co-writers Zach Shields and Todd Casey. Art is provided by Fiona Staples, Michael Montenat, Stuart Sayger, Maan House and Christian DiBari.
Weta Workshop released a number of collectables through their online store, including statues (Krampus, The Cherub, The Dark Elf), a life-sized prop reproduction of the Krampus Bell and a collectable pin.
Trick or Treat Studios released three Halloween Masks directly out of the screen used masters. The masks include Krampus and two elves, Window Peeper and Sheep Cote Clod.
Krampus grossed $42.7 million in the United States and Canada and $18.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $61.5 million, against a budget of $15 million.
In North America, Krampus earned $637,000 from its Thursday night showings, which began at 7 p.m., and topped the box office on its opening day with $6 million. It rose 9.9% on Saturday over Friday, a rare occurrence for a horror film. It went on to earn $16.3 million through its opening weekend from 2,902 theaters, which was above expectations and finished in second place at the box office, ahead of The Good Dinosaur, but behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ($18.6 million), which was on its third weekend. Scott Mendelson of Forbes felt the successful opening was attributed to the horror genre which was something of a new, unique and genuinely different offering at that time (the last time a Christmas-themed horror film opened was in 2006 with Black Christmas). However, he also stated that had Universal not embargoed the reviews two days prior to its release, a wave of mostly positive reviews dropping a few days before release would have boosted its opening accordingly.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67% based on 127 reviews, with an average rating of 6.07/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Krampus is gory good fun for fans of non-traditional holiday horror with a fondness for Joe Dante's B-movie classics, even if it doesn't have quite the savage bite its concept calls for." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed to average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
The horror blog, A Boos/Booze Situation heavily praised the film for its twist on Christmas themes, acting, and practical effects, stating: "I will defend this movie with my Sword of Stubborness until I die, surrounded by haters trying to dismantle my praise."
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