Krampus seems to give a nod to almost every Christmas movie ever, even name-dropping A Charlie Brown Christmas (a few other delightful references are to Calvin and Hobbes’ “noodle-incident” and Rick and Morty.) Directed by Trick r Treat‘s Michael Dougherty, the film’s depiction of a dysfunctional family is spot-on, and reminiscent of Gremlins, American Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. The casting in this film was amazing because by the time things have gone horribly wrong, the audience has really started to care about a group of people who started out rather unlikable.


There has been some question about what exactly happens at the end of Krampus. After being tortured all night by Krampus and his legion of demented Christmas toys, elves, and gingerbread men (not to mention his epic snowstorm,) Max loses his entire family to the underworld and confronts the ancient Austrian demon face-to-face. He’d somehow evoked this punishing spirit much like his grandmother did in her childhood, by giving up not only on the spirit of Christmas and a belief in Santa Clause but on his own family.

A Victorian Krampus greeting card

A Victorian Krampus greeting card

Krampus, who’s also known as Santa’s shadow, and wears a Santa mask to cover his true face, offers Max the same thing he offered his grandma Omi when she was a bitter, disbelieving child: a Krampus ornament and a chance to escape his family’s fate. Max refuses this terrible mercy and begs to be reunited with his family. We’re used to narratives where the overarching powers are persuaded by a change of attitude and personal growth, but for Max, it’s too late. His change of heart cannot save anyone. Krampus isn’t a figure of forgiveness, or a benevolent spirit looking for a touching internal transformation, he is a punisher. He laughs in Max’s face after he collected a tear in his giant talon, and sends Max straight into the underworld.


What happens next gives some a reason to hope for Max and his family, but I don’t think there is much reason to think they’ve been redeemed. Max awakens to a perfect Christmas morning, the Christmas morning of his dreams, in fact. The snow outside is a glistening, fluffy blanket straight off a Christmas Card, and his family is even more perfect. Instead of quarreling or stewing, they are enjoying themselves in a tranquil harmony. Max relishes his seemingly reborn family until he opens his gift, which turns out to be a little present from Krampus. Everyone’s faces turn from peace to horror as the camera pans out to reveal that they and their picturesque house are stuck inside a snow globe like the one on the Krampus poster. Their globe is kept in a vast collection of other snow globes (one contains Psycho’s Bates Motel, and there are supposed to be a bevy of other pop culture abodes being closely watched by the ancient figure,) and it looks like they’re not going anywhere for a while.

One interpretation is that Krampus has given them all a second chance to prove themselves as grateful people who love each other, and the globe is merely a window through which Krampus (and Santa, presumably) can watch them, but I think they are literally trapped together for eternity in their perfect Christmas morning. Max got what he wanted in a retributive Twilight Zone twist kind of way.

FYI! You can buy your very own Krampus bell here for $15.

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  • Tally Thick

    the snow globe is probably not hell. there is a part in which Max wakes up from what seems to be a nightmare and looks out his window to see his normal undamaged neighbourhood as it was before Krampus appeared and tore everything up. The snow globe of Max and his family sitting in the home inside the snow globe does not show Max’s entire neighbourhood; just Max’s house, which would suggest that the globe is only a looking glass for Krampus to look in check up on them as well as many other homes keeping up Christmas.

    It would seem that ,by the way the movie played out , Max was the cause and solution to stopping Krampus. His grandma got her Krampus wish, she never took it back or apologized for her mistake so Krampus kept her parents. It was only later, now that Krampus has returned that she was brave enough to face him and offer herself up as a sacrifice but she was not the reason for Krampus to show up this time so what she had to offer was not good enough.

    Max said he hated his family and stopped believing in Christmas. think about what this true believer went through to bring him to this point” He had a fight with another kid at a Christmas pageant, he is surrounded by people who do not seem to hold one another is high regard or esteem, his sister is too busy chasing around boys to care about her lonely friendless brother, he is walked through a store where people were acting like savages over material good and deals… the boy lost his faith in himself, those he loved and for mankind, as a whole. Krampus seemingly showed him that his hate for his family was not real. Max’s family also demonstrated a new found level of camaraderie, love and respect for one another as they all banded to together to try to save themselves and each other.

    Max seems to be an otherwise good kid who exhibits so much selflessness in his letter to Santa. It wouldnt make sense to condemn him and his family in the end. most kids are busy asking for stuff for themselves at this time of year and yet Max is asking for help and exhibiting hope for everyone he loves. He wished for a Christmas like the ones before everyone started being jerks, and lost patience and respect for one another. Krampus gave him his wish upon him waking up to Christmas day and finding everyone getting along, in high spirits, having a good time and with no recollection of the horrific events that Max was about to dismiss as merely a nightmare. However, the gift from Krampus dispels the notion that Max’s experiences were just a dream but rather more of a prophetic lesson or warning of things that may come but can be turned around if he and his family kept up true Christmas spirt of love, kindness, good will, respect and appreciation for each other and the rest of mankind. This would fit in with the Christmas Carol vibes this movie gives off.

    The bauble Krampus gifted to Max at the end, that seemingly resparks everyone’s memories of the horrific events maybe just an ominous warning meant to put everyone on notice that they were being given a second chance; Krampus is real and he is probably keeping a good eye on them all. Krampus may not be the bad guy but merely there to scare everyone straight.


      I completely agree. People went to see this expecting a two-dimensional horror flick
      and were disappointed when it turned out to be a traditional Christmas morality tale (like A Christmas Carol) . The biggest complaint I always see is that people complain that it was boring and didn’t have enough chainsaw gore. They completely missed the point.

  • N-Gage Graphics

    I saw you comment this same shit on another thread lol
    There should be no other interpretation than the writers. Thats how movies fucking work.

    • #1. Movies are made by many people, not just “the writers.”

      #2. Any piece of narrative or other kind of art always has meanings and interpretations that the creator maybe didn’t even intend or expect. The person who’s encountering a film/book/painting always brings their own perspective. Some interpretations can be too far off base to be valid, but once someone has created something, it is something in itself and not a part of the creator anymore. The creators don’t own the thing anymore, it is now a separate thing in communion with whoever else encounters it.

    • anon

      You say interpretation, yet you do not know what interpretation means.

  • Alexis LaFury

    Just watched for 2nd time and I went looking for some clarification as well. Found tons to back up what I thought such as this one on youtube. Didnt know this movie was based on comic books. Awesome! >>>
    via youtube

    Daniel Hulse5 days ago

    Krampus believes the family has learned their lesson, the snow globe is only showing surveillance of the house instead of containing it, and he is merely spying on them, to make sure that they do not ever lose their Christmas spirit again. (This hypothesis is supposedly backed up by the comic “Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas” by Michael Dougherty.)

  • Alexis LaFury

    Daniel Hulse5 days ago

    Krampus believes the family has learned their lesson, the snow globe is only showing surveillance of the house instead of containing it, and he is merely spying on them, to make sure that they do not ever lose their Christmas spirit again. (This hypothesis is supposedly backed up by the comic “Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas” by Michael Dougherty.)

    • Cool. Didn’t know it was based off of a comic!