Krampus: The Naughty Cut is now available for purchase on Blu-ray.
Directors’ cuts are having a moment. Earlier this year, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the foundational changes made to Zack Snyder’s Justice League result in an appreciably better movie. Francis Ford Coppola and Sylvester Stallone have both recently re-cut less stellar entries from the Godfather and Rocky series. DC fans have been pushing for Warner Bros. to let David Ayer deliver on his original vision of Suicide Squad. The common line I can draw through the above movies is that none of them were all that well-received upon their original release, so you can see how a new cut is kind of a “can’t lose” prospect. While alternate cuts of theatrically released movies can become the preferred choice for fans (looking at you Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition), they can also be a marketing ploy to get fans to double-dip and buy a version of the movie that restores footage better left on the cutting room floor. Krampus: The Naughty Cut doesn’t go so far as to add back scenes that detract from the experience, but the alterations are so slight that it’s hard to recommend it over the version released in the theaters.
Director Michael Dougherty’s (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Trick ‘r Treat) bleak, funny take on the modern meaning of Christmas was already pretty well-regarded, so any new material would have to make that much more of a case for itself to feel like the easy choice over the theatrical cut. The Naughty Cut’s embellishments are incredibly sparse, and ultimately add very little to the story. Most of the new dialogue scenes reinforce the family drama at the heart of Krampus. Sisters Sarah (Toni Collette) and Linda (Allison Tolman) lament how far apart they’ve grown, main kid Max (Emjay Anthony) makes a peace offering to his cousins amid the chaos being wrought by the Shadow of St. Nicholas and his minions… but nothing that alters the trajectory of the plot or radically recontextualizes anything we already knew.
The more enticing prospect of an unrated Krampus cut was the chance that the savage little beasts that tear their way through the Engel family one by one would be even more savage. Now, I decided not to rewatch Krampus before screening The Naughty Cut — it’s a perennial of mine, so I think I watched it with a better-than-average knowledge of the movie’s beats — and I can’t honestly point to any of the shots they added back into the scarier scenes. Maybe Tom (Adam Scott) got stabbed for a few extra seconds by a murderous toy? Maybe? Anyone hoping for protracted set pieces that were entirely missing from Krampus’ theatrical cut or particularly gruesome new wrinkles to the Engel family’s struggle to survive through to Christmas may come away feeling like they pulled coal out of their stocking.
In the end, recommending Krampus: The Naughty Cut really isn’t a question of which version of the movie is better; it’s more about what you want your home viewing experience to be. The Naughty Cut is the only home release of Krampus in 4K and with Dolby Atmos, so if your home theater setup can take advantage of those standards, there’s no real reason to pick the older transfer over this one.