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How Did YOU Interpret the Ending of ‘Krampus’?

How Did YOU Interpret the Ending of ‘Krampus’?

Today, December 5, is Krampusnacht (aka Krampus Night), the night the Christmas demon known as Krampus roams the streets, ahead of the Feast of Saint Nicholas.

So what better day to revisit Krampus, Trick ‘r Treat director Michael Dougherty’s 2015 film that is, and likely will forever be, the be-all, end-all Krampus movie!

One of the most talked about aspects of Dougherty’s Krampus is of course the ending, which suggests that pretty much everything we saw throughout the movie did not really happen. After Krampus kills his whole family and tosses him into the fiery depths of what is presumably Hell, Max (whose loss of faith in the Christmas spirit invited Krampus into his home in the first place) wakes up in his own bed on Christmas morning. Downstairs, he finds his family opening up presents by the tree – happy and still very much alive.

A normal, happy family Christmas is exactly what Max had wanted most, and the film seems like it’s going to end on that uplifting note; all the bad stuff was nothing more than a nightmare. But then Dougherty hits us with another twist. The camera pulls back to reveal that Max and his family are in some sort of hellish snow globe, which Krampus sets down in his underworld lair. They’ve seemingly become part of his collection, suggesting that the film’s events weren’t a dream at all.

The assumption one might derive from the film’s final coda is that Max and his family are literally trapped in Hell for the rest of eternity, doomed to live out that particular Christmas morning on an endless loop; a sort of cruel reminder of what they *could’ve* had when they were alive… if only they appreciated what they had.

But is that what Michael Dougherty really intended to convey? Did he give us a happy ending and then immediately rip it away in favor of a super depressing one? It’s certainly a valid interpretation of the film, though my personal take-away from the ending, as I originally relayed on Halloween Love back in 2015, was that Dougherty was imparting genuine holiday cheer – and a message we could all stand to learn.

The way I viewed Krampus, the events of the film weren’t an extended nightmare sequence but rather a hellish vision that Krampus forced Max to see – think A Christmas Carol, which was obviously a huge influence on Dougherty. Since Max learned the lesson Krampus wanted him to learn, offering himself up to the Christmas demon in the end, that vision, in so many words, did not end up coming true. It would have, of course, if Max didn’t learn his holiday lesson – we know this because Max’s grandmother failed to reverse Krampus’ evil deeds when she was a child, resulting in the death of her parents.

It was immediately after Max lost his inner Christmas spirit that Krampus and his twisted pals arrived, and it was precisely because Max lost sight of the true meaning of the holiday that they came knocking. Max wished that his family would go away, and by taking him on a nightmarish journey, Krampus showed Max that what he thought he wanted wasn’t what he wanted at all. Max realized that, and so Krampus gave him the ultimate gift.

He gave Max his family back.

KRAMPUS | via Universal Pictures

But how is it a happy ending if they’re all trapped in a snow globe? Well, they’re really not. The way I saw it, that was just Dougherty’s way of showing that those snow globes are Krampus’ portals to the real world. He has one for every family, and when they’re not respecting the spirit of the season, he strikes. He’s keeping tabs on every single family in the world, quite literally like an evil Santa Claus. He sees them when they’re sleeping. He knows when they’re awake. And he damn sure knows when they’ve been bad or good.

As for the bell that Max opens up on that happy Christmas morning, I viewed that as Krampus reminding Max that he’s watching, and letting him know that though none of those awful things actually happened to his family, it was all something more than a mere nightmare – even his family members seem to recognize the bell in some way, suggesting that they too experienced the same nightmare. Should Max lose sight of the Christmas spirit again, Krampus will return, as the family is forever under his watchful eye. The bell is merely a symbol – a reminder to never lose that Christmas spirit.

Though he may not be as cute or cuddly, it seems clear to me that Michael Dougherty views Krampus in much the same way he does Trick ‘r Treat‘s Sam; they’re both living, breathing cautionary tales for their respective holidays, existing for the primary purpose of teaching people to respect, appreciate, and uphold holiday traditions and values.

If you don’t, well, you know what’s going to happen to you…



  • Francesco Falciani

    The ending is pretty clear to me. They are died… trapped into a fake reality into a krampus ball. Their face showed it very well

    • Hank_Scorpio

      I agree

  • Erika Baker

    As bad as i want to argue against this article, it does make sense. I remember watching this with my kids and when they showed the family seemingly trapped in the snowglobe i was like, “Yeah, they ALL deserved this! Trapped in Chrstmas forever!” And my son said, “What did the baby do? They all dont deserve it.” Mind blown.

  • Creepshow

    I was hoping this movie was going to be about Krampus punishing/slaughtering snot nosed brats. Instead we got animated Gingerbread men. Oh what could have been.

    • Jay Bennett

      Im pinning you on making the next one

      • Creepshow

        It’ll never happen. People get crotch rot when one child dies, let alone a dozen.
        Oh what could have been.

        • American Atheist

          Trick R Treat had a bunch of kids die.

          The Witch had more children die than adults, they killed a baby too. Bonus points!

          TWD has no problem killing kids.
          Look at the flowers…

          Don’t be sad Creepshow. There are movies/shows with kids being killed.
          Merry Christmas!

          • Creepshow

            More dammit! MORE!

            Same to you bud!

          • michael35

            LOL priceless.

  • Nicolas Caiveau

    To me, they are in Hell, trapped for eternity in a snow globe. And yeah that’s depressing, that’s why I love it^^

    • American Atheist

      I agree. I loved that dark ending.

    • BreeBennett

      Yes. I love dark endings!!

  • Travis_Bickle

    I viewed it as a warning from Krampus to straighten up and stop being assholes. He has the snow globes to keep and eye on them to make sure they are heeding his warning. IMO

  • The only issue I see w/ your interpretation is that the family all recognized the bell on xmas morning. All realize that each of them had lost the xmas spirit. They are being punished, like all of the rest of the collection.

    • American Atheist

      Bingo!! You got it. The family’s expressions after seeing the bell was an acknowledgment that Krampus is very real and he owns their souls. Excellent ending!

  • Collin

    I like the interpretation of this article since its a happy but cautionary ending. I don’t like to think max went through all that only to lose anyways
    It would render the whole movie pointless

  • Laura Kinney (X-23)

    I agree completely!! Great film!!

  • Pikachu

    Hated it, wouldve been happier if it had just been a dream with the bell hinting it was real or them all dying except the kid, but them being stuck in a snowglobe, only thing i didnt like.

    • American Atheist

      That would’ve been awful. Ending a movie as the whole thing was a dream is a big fuck you to the audience. The writers/directors think they are being cute and clever by doing shit like that but in reality they are just being lazy.

      I loved they way Krampus ended. Actions have consequences. The family had their chance to celebrate Christmas without their pettiness and hatred. They couldn’t handle celebrating Christmas like a normal loving family, so now their souls get to rot together in a Christmas themed snow globe. Fantastic!

  • SupernaturalCat

    I went into Krampus (“Santa’s shadow”…very Jungian) with dismally low expectations (figuring my daughter and I would heckle it a spell before changing the channel) yet actually found it to be considerably better than what I’d thought it was going to be(!) …and, for me, that turnabout came immediately with the opening credit sequence involving a dark mockery of the lunacy of holiday consumer culture, replete with slow-mo shots of surly, mean-spirited shoppers stampeding and fighting with one another in an aisle of a dept store in their mindless mad dash to secure a ‘bargain’ on some useless junk they feel they need.

    In my estimation, this opening sets the tone for what follows. From the get-go, Krampus establishes its vindictive streak, which subsequently runs throughout. Hence all characters in the story–parents and children alike, are menaced, dispatched and imprisoned in a unique Hell of their own making by the story’s conclusion, which only has a surface appearance of a perfect Christmas morning. That was my take on it, that there are no redemptive motives or second chances involved. Only just rewards.

    Also, the snow globe ending made me recall the brilliant ending of Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

  • Rohan

    I originally thought they were trapped in the lair, but when I heard that theory from my Buddy awhile ago it made much more sense.

  • Rick-Taylor

    I feel like the final scene of the family in the bell was just a tacked on ending for one final “Boo” scare. I like the movie, otherwise.

  • Jessica Martin

    I agree with your interpretation, to be honest.

  • I liked the movie except the ending, I thought they were trapped, but your theory makes a lot of sense.

  • American Atheist

    “they’re both living, breathing cautionary tales for their respective holidays, existing for the primary purpose of teaching people to respect, appreciate, and uphold holiday traditions and values.”

    By killing them? Lol

    Sam committed and witnessed multiple murders. He set up Mr Kreeg to be killed by the school bus kids that Mr Kreeg murdered. Krampus and his minions kill Max’s family (among other families) and keeps their souls as punishment. He adds Max’s family to his collection with the other families who disrespected the spirit of Christmas.

    Krampus is far from a happy ending. Lol. That’s why I like it so much.

  • Rohan
  • sixfeetdownsouth

    They are in hell. Krampus/The devil checked the evil mother fuckers into their own hell.

  • zombie84_41

    i always thought they were trapped forever in hell they all died but max gets what he always wanted so its a depressing happy ending

  • Alanmac

    I thought it was like a “do over” type thing but this “they’re all in hell” idea seems to have some good points to it. Definitely one of the fave holiday movies at my house. LOVE David Koechner’s character playing against the effeminate dad.

    • MrX13

      It is a great holiday movie!

  • My thing with this movie is that you don’t actually get to see the Krampus. Maybe I’m 100% wrong on this, but I feel that the Krampus is wearing Santa’s face and you never seen him, thus the poor facial movement and locked expression. Think Texas Chainsaw.

  • Fairy Princess

    Nah, not buying it. They are in hell. Horror movies shouldn’t have happy endings.

    • MrX13

      That’s how I interpret that ending. Max and family weren’t enjoying the Christmas and then Krampus comes and punishes them and now they all live in forever hell!

  • MrX13

    Great film! And I loved the ending! That forever hell trapped in the snow globe is punishment for not enjoying the holidays with family.

    The graphics, puppets, make-up, everything was very well done!

  • Coty Reynolds

    I took at as Krampus giving the family a second chance, all the while keeping a close eye on them. His gift was an acknowledgement that he’s still watching, but if all goes well they could possibly be released at a certain point. They all seemed far too content for it to be an end all be all hell.

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