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On Location with Allison Tolman

The actress takes us behind the scenes of the chilling Christmas thriller Krampus

For lots of people, Christmas is all about spreading holiday cheer or being surrounded by loved ones with eggnog in hand. That’s not quite what happens in Krampus, a horror movie that follows one young boy named Max—played by Emjay Anthony—who stops believing in Old Saint Nick and instead summons a darker creature down his family’s chimney. 

Fargo alum Allison Tolman stars in the film as Max’s aunt, who battles numerous members of nefarious yuletide creatures to protect her family. For Tolman, who lives in the U.S., the Wellington, New Zealand shoot was a chance to dive into one of her favorite genres.  

“I am a huge horror fan. I had my eyes out to do a horror movie and then Krampus came along,” Tolman explains. “It was exactly the type of film I wanted to make. It’s a really kind of fun, throwback horror film. It’s pretty great for families that love horror because they can introduce their kids to this genre.” 

Tolman and her on-screen husband, David Koechner, frequented local breakfast cafés and comedy clubs. During the two months of shooting, Tolman was happy to find some downtime to explore.

“There are great cocktail bars in Wellington. It’s a super walkable town. There are always people out and stuff going on,” Tolman says. “Over the long Easter weekend, I got to go down to the South Island of New Zealand, which was really beautiful. I was glad I got to take a bit of a trip to see some more of New Zealand” 

She was in for another treat when she discovered that Weta Workshop, the company that mastered the makeup, effects, and weaponry for The Lord of The Rings, would be constructing some of the creatures seen in Krampus.  

“I am kind of a nerdy fan of The Lord of The Rings. We got to tour their workshop. So, it was pretty exciting. We were entrenched in that The Lord of the Rings culture, which was nice,” says Tolman. 

And the Weta Workshop team did not disappoint. These holiday icons were transformed into eerie creations to bring a more ghostly feeling to this silent night. 

“We had seen some of the concept artwork ahead of time, but nothing really prepares you for having it physically in front of you. Meeting Krampus for the first time was really incredible. It’s really striking,” says Tolman.

In Austria and other parts of Europe, December 5 is actually celebrated as Krampus Night. When asked if she believes in this darker spirit, Tolman says she’s pretty sure it’s all just make believe. 

“I certainly hope there is not an actual physical manifestation of Krampus creeping around the world,” she says, “because as people will see he is pretty terrifying.”