Eleven year old Max still believes in Santa Claus and wants to keep the magic of Christmas alive. When his extended family come to stay for the holidays his faith is tested. His older cousins read his letter to Santa aloud at the dinner table to mock him and Max tears up the letter and throws the pieces out the window, where they are blown away in the winter wind. Instead of Santa, Max's letter finds its way to Krampus, the mythic figure of European folklore who traditionally accompanies Saint Nicholas to punish bad children. Max's Omi (grandmother) tells the family of her own encounter with Krampus as a child in Germany, but it is too late to stop him from coming. The family find themselves fighting to survive against Krampus and his minions who have come to take them to the underworld.
Krampus is a fun comedy horror film, which plays on themes of the meaning of Christmas, especially worries about its commercialisation, and the loss of things like sharing joy with loved ones. Max's father talks to him about how trying it can be to get along with family- "people you try to be friends with even though you don't have a whole lot in common". I'm sure a lot of people will relate to Max's mother, Sarah (Toni Collette of Muriel's Wedding and xXx: Return of Xander Cage) dealing with criticism of her cooking, or Tom (Max's father, played by Adam Scott of Party Down and Parks and Recreation) fending off Howard (David Koechner of The Office) making digs about his masculinity.
The tone reminded me of Gremlins (1984). It would probably terrify a child, but for an adult, there are only a few scenes that are actually scary, and then only mildly. In the tradition of good monster movies, you don't get a good look at Krampus himself towards the end of the movie, which helps to build the tension. Krampus and his minions have been created by the Weta workshop (the effects team behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Mad Max Fury Road). They range from cute, but disturbing, to just plain disturbing (in particular the Jack-in-the-Box clown beast will haunt my dreams).
Krampus is a fun holiday horror comedy that makes a change from the usual feel-good Christmas fare. It will probably appeal to fans of B movies and people who work in retail at Christmas.