Krampus: The Reckoning (2015) poster

Krampus: The Reckoning (2015)


USA. 2015.


Director/Screenplay – Robert Conway, Story – Owen Conway & Robert Conway, Producers – Justin Anderson, Owen Conway, Robert Conway & Joseph Mbah, Photography – Travis Amery & Joseph Mbah, Music – Owen Conway & Kevin Tye, Visual Effects Supervisor – Borja A. Ortiz, Makeup Effects – Cat Bernier, Production Design – Liz Bradley & Christopher R. Smith. Production Company – Funhouse Features/Ugly Salmander/Alexander Designs.


Monica Engesser (Dr. Rachel Stewart), James Ray (Detective Miles O’Connor), Amelia Haberman (Zoe Weaver), Kevin Tye (Dr. Tom Jennings), Sean G.P. Anderson (Lamaar Coleman), Owen Conway (Joe Mooney), Carrie Fee (Katie Hoelzer), Shawn Saavedra (Andy Kelly), Nathaniel Burns (Clay Ellsworth), Benjamin Foronda (Teddy Hoelzer)


As Christmas nears in Arizona, child psychologist Rachel Stewart is called in after the foster parents of young Zoe Weaver are found incinerated, while she is locked in her room the entire time. Rachel is determined to question Zoe who claims that they were killed by Krampus because they were naughty. As other incinerated bodies appear, Rachel determines to dig into Zoe’s mysterious past.

According to tradition, Krampus is the evil brother of Santa who comes to punish naughty children, leaving coal in their stockings or dragging them away for punishment. Krampus was a fairly obscure piece of Germanic folklore but was suddenly discovered by American filmmakers in the 2010s who promptly saw much potential in adapting Krampus for the Christmas horror film. The first of these was Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013) and was followed by high-profile Krampus (2015). The latter seemed to spawn a whole series of low-budget Krampus films with Lady Krampus (2016), Mother Krampus (2017), Bigfoot vs Krampus (2021), Sister Krampus (2021), Return of Krampus (2022) and one of the stories in the anthology A Christmas Horror Story (2015). (For a more detailed list see Christmas Films).

This version comes from Robert Conway, a director who has made a string of low-budget independent films beginning with the Western Redemption: A Mile from Hell (2009). In genre material, Conway has also made Exit to Hell (2013), The Encounter (2015), The Covenant (2017) and Skinwalker (2021), as well as produced Battlefield 2025 (2020).

Krampus: The Reckoning is a B-budget film. It is evident in the lighting and some of the sound quality, although you can also tell that an effort is being made by Conway and co. Where the budget is particularly evident is when it comes to the appearances of the Krampus monster, which look like a crappy CGI effect from an early 2000s videogame.

Krampus attacks Carrie Fee in Krampus: The Reckoning (2015)
Krampus attacks Carrie Fee

The main issues with the film are not budgetary but exist with the script and its lack of real explanations about what is going on. For one, this is not really a Krampus film. What it is is an Evil Child film with Krampus as a boogeyman that occasionally pops up to kill people on her behalf. The connection between child and Krampus is not particularly clear. The twist that comes in in mid-film where Monica Engesser discovers that Zoe has been a child since 1991 just sits there without any explanation or its significance made clear. There is also an ending where Monica Engesser learns that she is to be judged for a great crime, but we are never told what it is she did.

As the evil child of the show, Amelia Haberman plays with a singularly fixed expression that is quite unnerving. The two adults leads, Monica Engesser and James Ray, strike up a believable rapport and are actually quite convincing.

Subsequently, Robert Conway made a sequel with Krampus Unleashed (2016). This film’s producer Joseph Mbah subsequently directed another film Krampus Origins (2018).

Trailer here

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