Logline:When Macaulay Culkin’s brother, Kieran, is abducted by Krampus, the Christmas demon, Mac sets out to trap Krampus to try to get Kieran back.
Estranged brothers Macaulay and Kieran Culkin are tricked into reuniting by mutual friends. They’re snowed in on Christmas Eve, stuck in an Airbnb up in the Austrian Alps. The Culkins play nice, showcasing their ugly sweaters, going through the motions of party games, but neither has much to say to the other.
Mike, the film critic who put this shindig together, searches the cabin for a distraction. He spots a carving on a windowpane. It turns out Mike is obsessed with myths and monsters and recognizes this carving.
“This rune is an Algiz, a symbol of the white elk. I think it’s supposed to be a protection ward.”
“It isn’t working.” Kieran points to his brother.
Mike insists they search the cabin for more spooky shit. He explains the Norse carvings lining the railing as he herds his friends toward the attic.
The Culkins have a good time, riffing on the occult cabin, but they get a little too deep into their eggnog. Macaulay mentions that he’s running an online poll to change his middle name and that the top suggestion is “Kieran.”
Kieran throws his hands up. “It’s that kind of shit that makes it hard for me to get work. Every time you go outside you devalue the Culkin brand.”
“The Culkin brand? Oh come on, we’re not Kardashians.”
Kieran bunches his fists. “I’ve been busting my ass just to eek my way onto HBO. Meanwhile you’re putting pizza puns in Velvet Underground songs. You retired at 14. Nothing matters to you, yet I’m the one living in your shadow.”
The brothers are at each other’s throats until Mike finds something in an old chest: a horned mask lined with fur with a strange bell around its collar.
Macaulay is curious. “What is it?”
Mike “It’s Krampus, the Christmas demon. He rides shotgun with Santa, taking the wicked children back to his lair where he beats them with birch sticks and rusty chains.”
The Culkins aren’t sure if Mike is messing with them.
“You guys never saw that Krampus movie with Toni Collette and Adam Scott?”
Macaulay shakes his head. “We don’t watch a lot of Christmas movies.”
Kieran points to the bell covered in strange symbols, “What’s that?”
“The Fluchglocke? Parents used to ring it when their kids were disobedient. They’d say, ‘Now Krampus knows what you did. He’s coming for you this year for sure.’”
Mac raises an eyebrow. “Here I thought my upbringing was weird.”
‘Twas the Night Before Darkness…
That night Macaulay creeps into Kieran’s room. He opens a window, with strange sigils, crawls back into the shadows, and slides the Krampus mask on.
Kieran wakes up shivering, covered in snow. He struggles with the window, but its frozen open. That’s when he hears the bell behind him. He turns to find Macaulay in the Krampus mask.
“Someone’s been a bad wittle boy.”
Kieran loses his shit.
Mike wakes up to find the Culkins wrestling in the hall, knocking over framed photographs.
“Stop! You’re ruining my rating!”
The guests pry the brothers apart, but not before Macaulay bloodies Kieran’s nose. Everyone glares at Macaulay like in the opening scene of Home Alone.
Creatures were Stirring
Mike snores through his sleeping bag on the couch. Macaulay is wide-awake on an air mattress. He hears a rattling from the chimney. Something is disturbing the moonlight in the fireplace. Macaulay pries a small mirror off the wall and slides it atop the Yule logs to get a better look. A rusty hook shatters the glass.
Mike chortles awake. Macaulay crawls to Mike in time to sush him.
A chain dangles from the fireplace. Both men are frozen in terror as they watch the hook remove the Yule logs one at a time.
A set of hooves touches down in the empty fireplace. A dark lanky figure crawls out sniffing the air. Its antlers cast maddening shadows on the ceiling. Its legs are matted and wooly. There’s a collar around its neck with a long chain leading back up the chimney.
Another pair of hooves touches down behind him. A boney figure with long sharp antelope horns emerges from the soot. It too has a collar. It too sniffs the air knowing its prey is near.
A final set of hooves touches down. This one shatters the bricks beneath it. This is the figure holding the chains. It has long spiraled horns and a beard that blends into the fur running down its chest. This is Krampus.
These shadow figures stretch across the room in low herky jerky movements, a bowlegged ballet that could turn violent at any moment. The scouts tug their chains toward the stairs. Krampus follows.
Two pairs of eyes peak out from a slit in the sleeping bag. Mike and Macaulay unzip themselves when the cost is clear.
There’s a howl from the second floor, followed by footfalls and shattered glass.
Kieran has been taken.
Six Months Later
Only Macaulay and Mike know what happened to Kieran. TMZ is fanning the flames of conspiracy theories. Once again Macaulay finds himself haunted by the paparazzi, living in hiding.
Mike ventures to Paris to find Macaulay throwing knives at pizza boxes stacked floor to ceiling.
“When did you get into throwing knives?”
“Since I made my brother disappear.”
“That wasn’t you.”
“Yes it was.”
“It was Krampus.”
“I’ve done my share bad shit: drinking, drugs, Richie Rich, but I’ve never gotten a visit from a demon on Christmas. There’s something special about that house and those relics. I just can’t figure it out. There’s too much Krampus bullshit on the Internet. I need to research the region, but I don’t speak the language, and I can’t get far with the papa-Nazis on my back.”
Mike nods. “I can help with that.”
Obligatory Monster Research Sequence
The pair treks across Eastern Europe.
Mike ventures into an creepy library and does a deep dive into the doi decimal system, paging through etchings, filling memo pads with notes. He underlines a name he keeps seeing: Dr. Wojtek Wolinski, Kramposologist.
Mike and Macaulay track Dr. Wolinskito a remote Slovenian village. It turns out the doctor is a doomsday prepper living in a boxcar on the outskirts of town. He’s about to slam his bunker door when he realizes just who is in front of him. Dr. Wolinski asks Macaulay to recreate the aftershave pose from Home Alone for the sake of selfie.
“You can, but I won’t.”
Mike coughs into his fist. “Ah-hem.”
Macaulay rolls his eyes. “Fine.”
Dr. Wolinski rubs his palms together. “Now say, ‘Keep the change, ya filthy animal!’”
Know Thy Enemy
Wolinski gives an impromptu lecture on Krampus with the kind of perfectly cobbled together visual aids that can only be found in horror films.
“Forget everything you’ve heard about Krampus. He has nothing to do Saint Nicholas. Krampus and his pets Schabmänner or Rauhen are far more ancient. Krampus is the bastard offspring of Hel the Goddess of death. Hel charged him with scarring the ghosts of winter back to Helheim. Krampus became part of the holiday tradition when Christianity made its way to the region. I think the change has had a strange effect on him. My parents would tell me stories about disobedient children who had gone missing. My vater would ask, ‘Whatever happened to loud little Luka?’ and my mutter would say, ‘Krampus must’ve taken him.’ The strange this was my friend Luka was missing.”
Macaulay can’t help but notice Dr. Wolinski’s hands are trembling.
“Are you comfortable talking about this?”
“Forgive me. We were taught that these myths were real. They still weigh heavy on me.”
Mac nods. “You don’t have to explain it. I was raised Catholic.”
“Oh, so then you know.”
Helheim and Beyond
Macaulay lets Mike in on his plan. He’s been trying to buy the cabin in the Austrian Alps ever since Kieran went missing. He’s finally outbid the competition. Macaulay aims to summon Krampus to trap him and force him to bring Kieran back.
In a montage Dr. Wolinski teaches Macaulay how to fashion deadly survivalist traps. Mike showcases what he’s learned about Norse runes. Macaulay practices his knife throwing skills on demon effigies.
Dr. Wolinski lays out the details for how mortals can travel back and forth through Helheim.
“Anyone can project their consciousness throughout the realms, but to truly crossover they need to go where the borders between worlds are at their thinnest, to the tallest mountain peaks. Then they’ll need someone on the other side to open the door.”
Macaulay nods. “How do they get back?”
“They need someone on this side to hold the door open.”
“So how does one get a magic door stop?”
“One makes their own.”
In the weeks leading to Christmas Macaulay installs secret hatches throughout the cabin, motion sensors in the chimney, and a system of mirrors. He crawls from the fireplace sniffing the air. It occurs to him to put pine scented air fresheners everywhere. He crafts a mechanism that turns the master staircase into a ramp with the push of a button. He carves out a trapdoor at the foot of the stairs.
A truck pulls in. Macaulay guides delivery drivers with three huge boxes into the cellar. The drivers setup three heavy-duty cages. Macaulay directs them to position the cages’ toward the ceiling. The drivers exchange baffling looks, but Macaulay’s attention is on the paint cans lining the shelving.
Meanwhile Mike combs over leather bound texts for the means to enchant a pair of literal doorstops he’s placed in the middle of a salted circle. Chalk in hand Mike covers his command center in Norse runes.
Macaulay drags a department store worth of mannequins through the front door. He spends the evening tying sausage links around their necks.
Macaulay sprays Mike with a bottle of something called “Dead Down Wind.”
Mike covers Macaulay’s face in Viking war paint.
“Mac. Are you sure about this?”
Macaulay nods. “Nobody fucks with a Culkin on Christmas.”
‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas
Macaulay opens the bedroom window. Positions the Krampus Mask on a mannequin at the end of the hall. He backs to the head of the stairs and hurls a knife, dinging the cursed bell. Macaulay slips through a hatch, slides down a pole and joins Mike in his command center. They watch infrared screens for signs of movement.
Schabmänner, Rauhen, and Krampus slide down the chimney in the same order as before. The monitors fill with antlers, hooves, and claws. The creatures sniff the air, just as before, but now Schabmänner and Rauhen are tugging their leashes in opposite directions. Krampus unlatches their collars, setting them free to wreak havoc on the cabin. Schabmänner and Rauhen dig their claws into the walls and scurry onto the ceiling. Krampus remains in the den, standing motionless, staring right into camera lens.
Macaulay squeezes Mike’s shoulder. “That’s my cue.”
“Wrong Christmas movie.”
Macaulay climbs a ladder upstairs. He peeks through the hatch to find Schabmänner with his antlers stuck through a mannequin. Schabmänner’s jaw is unhinged and its long tongue is trying to reach the sausage links.
Schabmänner spots Macaulay and chases him into the attic where he finds Macaulay desperately trying to open the window. Schabmänner charges, trips on a pile of micro machines and slides through a trap door. He falls several stories into a cage in the basement.
Macaulay opens the window with ease. There’s a zipline already in place, all Macaulay has to do is strap into a harness hanging from the support beam. Macaulay goes for the harness. A pair of horns impales the floorboards between him and the window. In an explosion of shards Rauhen is up in the attic and Macaulay is running back down to the second floor.
Macaulay leads Rauhen toward the master staircase, slips through a hatch, and slams a button. Rauhen legs fall out from under him as the stairs turn into a ramp. He slides at an awkward angle and misses the trapdoor.
Macaulay calls down from the banister above. “Hey, pronghorn. Up here.”
Macaulay hits Rauhen with a paint can on a string, knocking the demon into the cage below.
Mike watches from the monitors as Krampus finally reacts.
“That got his attention. Look alive. He’s coming.”
Macaulay sprints down the hall, rounds a corner into the kitchen, and gets into position beneath a lantern. He looks at his reflection on an angled pane of glass cutting through the room. He glances at a square in the floor tiles and crosses his fingers.
Krampus gallops down the hall toward Macaulay’s ghostly reflection. It looks like he’s going to fall for the trap, until he rounds the kitchen corner, grabs Macaulay by the collar and drops him through the trap door.
To Helheim and Back
Macaulay wakes up swinging from the cage. Schabmänner and Rauhen are dangling in their cages beside him. Three long chains lead up to Krampus who iss flying through the night sky on a pair of batwings. Macaulay looks down upon the corpse riddle shores of Nifelheim as Krampus delivers him into the bowels of Helheim and a castle made of bones.
Krampus hurls Macaulay’s cage into the cell of a dungeon. It isn’t long before the cage is besieged by a thin bearded figure in an ugly Christmas sweater. The attack stops as fast as it began.
“Kieran, you’re alright!”
“I’ve been living off of gruel and birch shavings and I poop in bowl. Do I look alight?”
“You’re alive. That’s what matters.”
Kieran sighs. “I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this and I am really sorry for everything I said that night.”
“Are you shitting me? I’m sorry for getting you caught up in this?”
“I’m sorry you got caught up in it too.”
“Oh no Kieran, I’m right where I want to be.”
It turns out Macaulay has fitted his cage with a dozen throwing knives. He hits a latch and crawls out. It was always his plan to get caught.
Macaulay speaks into his doorstop. “Mike, do you read me?”
Back in the cabin Mikes doorstop lights up.
“Loud and clear. Do you got him?”
Macaulay nods. “We got him.”
“Alight let’s get to work on the door.”
Mike kicks his sliding chair out and starts drawing a rune on the floor of the command room.
A galloping sound echoes throughout the dungeon.
Kieran balls up. “He’s coming back for our beating.”
Macaulay shows Kieran a picture of the rune and hands him a piece of chalk. “Draw that as big as you can.”
“Because you’re the artist in the family. Me, I just fuck things up.”
Macaulay waits at the threshold of the cell to meet Krampus head on. When Krampus is within range Macaulay hurls knives in the demon’s direction.
Kieran scrawls a circle across the cobblestones. Lightning bolts shoot out from rivets in the floor. Cracks spread throughout the ceiling.
Krampus howls. It turns out he really doesn’t like being stabbed with sharp objects and Macaulay still has a fist full of daggers at his disposal.
Kieran completes the symbol. A blinding light shines from the chalk outline. Cobblestones float up into the air. Kieran peers into the light and sees Mike looking back at him from the command room.
“Come on Mac. It’s time to go.”
But it’s too late. Krampus has reached through the bars. Now he has Macaulay by the neck. Krampus unhinges his jaw to let his python tongue slither down.
“Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”
Macaulay hurls his knives right down Krampus’s throat. Macaulay falls to the floor and slides into the vortex right behind his brother.
The cabin burns. Macaulay, Kieran, and Mike lock arms and sing “Silent Night.”
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?