Protecting the Flock

The best shot in Krampus happens behind the opening credits. As shoppers pour into an unnamed store on Black Friday, a child is seen screaming and crying under a Christmas tree display as adults run by, more concerned with snagging cheap TVs.

Krampus isn’t about Christmas’ inevitable decline into commercialism like say, Gremlins (which Krampus invokes often). Instead, it’s about how that decline is seen through the eyes of once starry-eyed, hopeful kids, hanging on to the last year or two of their belief in Santa. In this family, there’s little celebration, only arguing as the various members split down the political divide and generally irritate one another. That’s actually what Krampus does best, recalling another classic, Christmas Vacation, in staging the infinite annoyance around holiday gatherings.

Krampus slogs along, less amusing in the family dynamics than it is outright argumentative

Being in the horror comedy genre, Krampus soon needs to bring these people together for a common cause. It’s their fault, after all. Bickering and bullying led to Max (Emjay Anthony) shredding his Christmas list, a symbolic gesture to indicate the finality of his beliefs. In steps evil incarnate. More than a lone hulking beast, Krampus brings with it multiple flesh-eating monsters.

It takes a while though. Krampus slogs along, less amusing in the family dynamics than it is outright argumentative. The one-liners disappear along with the hilariously cynical peek at the American holidays. What results is aimless, ignoring the possibilities in exploring gift giving hollowness for cleverly staged action. It’s as if Krampus forgets that opening scene until the last shot brings a minor twist.

Laughs do come. A kitchen brawl between David Koechner and snarling gingerbread cookies brings out the best from the ‘80s comedies Krampus admires. Practical effects elsewhere look fantastic, yet these scenes never feel connected to anything. The family regroups, their character arcs long since over, and the spectacle turns into the focus. Poor Max, the critical component to Krampus, can do little other than hug whoever is closest for most of the runtime. Whatever the thematic ambition, Krampus can’t hold on for the duration.


Upscaled from a 2K digital source, Krampus only reaches a certain high – and that’s only fair. Detail lacks all around, overly smoothed by the source camera, and the best texture comes from the noise. The latter varies in intensity, and at times is poorly handled by the encode. A spot or two of ringing shows up as well. Krampus doesn’t gain much in the jump to a new format.

While Dolby Vision brings a substantial level of contrast, it’s almost too much in the first act. Brightness is overwhelming and aggressive. Clipping shows at various times until the darker tones take hold, letting shadows bring the dimension.

Krampus uses two palettes, the typical warm and cool hues that follow the intended tone. Neither is without intensity in the primaries though. Christmas reds jump from every possible source. There’s a near equal amount of green too. Saturation is the best thing on the disc.


Mixed overly low, prepare to boost the volume a few notches. In Atmos, Krampus has some fun with the audio, but misses opportunities like heavy winds that barely use the height channels. What’s missed in the ambiance isn’t lacking during the action though. Krampus jumps between rooftops, his attack strategy great for this codec. His presence becomes a constant whenever around. Other positional channels toy with the horror and/or jump scares, building tension by keeping effects dancing around the soundstage.

While not substantial, the low-end sees consistent use, adding bit to Krampus’ footsteps. Each stomp feels large and weighted.


On the UHD, Shout includes a new commentary from director Michael Doughtery and the co-writers Todd Casey & Zack Shields. Inserting the Blu-ray brings up eight new interviews, including Doughtery, cast members, effects crew, and more. A half-hour making of includes plentiful behind-the-scenes footage between interview segments. A 10-minute peek inside WETA’s work leans toward EPK, but at least delivers the goods when it comes to showing the workshop. Fourteen deleted/extended scenes last 17-minutes. A five-minute gag reel is hysterical. A short alternate ending almost marks the end, but that title is held by galleries and trailers.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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An uneven holiday horror comedy, Krampus finds its groove in places, but can’t sustain the momentum to carry it to feature length.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 60 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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