Based off of European folklore, Krampus is a horned half-goat, half-demon beast that hunts, captures, and punishes naughty children during the holiday season. Starring the Engel family (a dysfunctional family coming together to celebrate Christmas), trouble starts when the youngest in the family declares that he hates Christmas along with his family and storms off to his room.
The outburst beckons Krampus to the Engel home to punish the family for forgetting about the real spirit of Christmas. As family members are slowly taken one at a time by the goat demon and his horde of evil toys, the family finds itself under house arrest with nothing to do but wait out the snowstorm brought about with the arrival of Krampus himself.
Inspired by the 2015 film and the immensely popular Dark Christmas scare zone on Baker Street, Krampus celebrates and corrupts the meaning of Christmas during the Halloween season.
As guests approach Krampus, the facade of the maze is none other than the Engel family house adorned with flickering Christmas lights, ominous icicles, and the foreboding shadow of Krampus standing on top of the roof howling at guests as he sees fit. Krampus himself is outfitted with periodic blasts of illumination that are timed with his howls. This is a simple effect, but these small touches – when taken as a whole – easily make Krampus’ façade a standout at this year’s event.
To add to the fun, a frozen mailman walks back in front of the house conversing with guests as they are about to enter the frozen home. Each and every night, guests can follow @HorrorNights on Twitter to receive a password that they can tell the mailman in exchange for a Krampus themed post card.
The bulk of the maze takes place inside a frozen and frosty version of the Engel home and backyard, with smells of pumpkin and pine throughout the maze. Fog is a common element in most of Krampus’ scenes, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a plume of smoke as you enter various rooms. We’re not kidding when we say that some scenes have practically zero visibility – a frightening but wonderfully effective effect that forces you to gravitate to the screams of guests ahead of you.
With that in mind, the maze focuses a little more on set pieces and replicating scenes from the movie more than it does on sheer scares. Every single one of Krampus’ minions are present, from the Christmas tree angel to the evil gingerbread horde, and of course the man eating jack-in-the-box with the primary goal of replicating imagery from the film. The maze does such a fantastic job of hitting most of the notes from the film that a lack of many real scares is nothing to scoff at. Indeed, guests can hear the howl of Krampus throughout the maze as he stalks them, determined to take them down to his special version of hell.
This foreboding atmosphere can, at times, be even scarier than seeing the monster in person.
Like The Exorcist’s heavy use of animatronics, the use of puppets – both large and small – and props throughout Krampus transforms everyday objects into twisted, corrupt versions of themselves throughout the maze. We couldn’t help but smile at the twisted gingerbread men, which share a striking similarity to Gingy from Shrek 4D alongside the deranged snowmen that compose most of the backyard scene.
We’d also like to highlight the puppets in the attic scene, which allow the Christmas tree angel jump off the silver screen and come to life right in front of your eyes. Of course, along with puppets, live actors also appear through the experience, including a scare actor with a rabid teddy bear clamped onto his arm alongside Krampus himself in a detailed and surprisingly nimble costume. The face, the arched back, and the size of Krampus all just feel right.
Overall, Krampus ties together all the great aspects of the film with a brilliant combination of goofiness and horror. Like the Dark Christmas scare zone before it, Krampus plays on everyone’s adoration with Christmas, adding a sadistic twist to an otherwise benign and friendly holiday. From the eerie Christmas music wobbling throughout the house to the macabre snowmen blocking your path through the backyard, Krampus fires on all four cylinders creating a unique combination of Christmas cheer and Halloween horror.
In short, if you enjoyed the movie (or even Dark Christmas), you’ll be thrilled to be assaulted by this clan of gingerbread men in this smartly produced continuation of the myth of Krampus.
Halloween Horror Nights 2016: Complete Coverage
Be sure to visit our Halloween Horror Nights 2016 index for links to additional reviews, photos and highlight reels from this year’s event.