Tonight is Krampusnacht, so why not celebrate with a film or two about the classic tale of what happens to bad little boys and girls. On Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, a being known as Krampus goes to visit bad kids, taking them in his basket and giving them beatings with reeds. The tale has a few variations on the theme depending where you are in the world and who is telling. As such, it was ripe for the taking by horror filmmakers with, well, uneven results. That being said a couple of these come up head and shoulders above the rest. To be fair, an unholy number of Krampus films were watched recently, including everything from Krampus (by Michael Dougherty, Trick R Treat) to Mother Krampus and all the Krampus films that could be sequels to one another or independent that could be found on streaming.
Well, most of them, there is limit to the number of blah films one can watch. So which one should you look for and why?
Krampus (2015) This is the one most people will be thinking of and with good reason, it’s a high budget, glossy horror film from the director of Trick R Treat that is fairly well-loved across the board. It’s a fun film and the Krampus being here feels a bit more original. However, most of the mayhem is not due to him, but to elves, gingerbread men, an angel, a teddy bear, etc. It’s a fun watch, but something feels off between the tone of the first third, that of the rest of the film, and that double ending. The ending itself is grim, then we get a switch, then another ending that makes it grim again and seems to promise much more stories to come, which we’ve yet to see. All in all, it’s a fun one and easily a film to be watched on per year around this time in December. There is a brand-new Naughty version that was just release.
A Christmas Horror Story (2015) Same year, another Krampus story. Well, in this case, it’s more like Christmas in the town of Bailey Downs (that town from Ginger Snaps), with multiple stories happening all at once. I personally love it, but Felix did not, so it’s up to each viewer to see for themselves. It’s one worth checking out if only for the effects and some of the fight sequences between supernatural beings. That Santa is badass, so is that Krampus.
Mother Krampus (2017) Not the best out there, but definitely better than most takes on the myth that has come for the uber low budget world. This one makes an effort with the story and the characters, giving the cast something good to work with. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, so it’s an easy watch on a random evening. There are some genuinely creepy moments in there and some good ideas that make it work watching. Is it really Krampus? Not really no, but is Mother Krampus a good take and evolution on the general idea? Yeah. Some of the reasoning behind this one are more connected to Freddy Krueger than Krampus, but it works for the most part. While marketed and titled Krampus, it is about another myth that won’t be spoiled here.
Other titles out there are not quite as entertaining as the above and honestly, they range from ok background noise to straight up terrible, so after only 4 of them watch, giving up was necessary. The titles of those watched were Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2014), Krampus: The Reckoning (2015), Krampus Unleashed (2016, mildly connected to Krampus: The Reckoning), and Krampus Origins (2018). As is pretty clear, since the top listed Krampus and A Christmas Horror Story did well, each year, at least one Krampus film seems to be released. Eventually, one of them is gonna really go for it and give the viewers a true Krampus, horrific and scary while giving a great story that sticks to the myth.