Screenwriter Michael Dougherty already had high-profile films like X2 and Superman Returns to his name when he made the leap to directing, with the 2007 horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat; that doesn’t mean the transition came easy, though. In fact, his directorial debut sat on studio shelves for two years – without a proper theatrical release – before finally hitting DVD and Blu-ray in 2009.

However, in the years since, Trick ‘r Treat has become a modern cult classic (with a sequel in development), and Dougherty’s second feature, Krampus, looks like it will receive the wide release its predecessor never did. Now fans of the writer/director’s long-awaited sophomore effort have a new glimpse at the upcoming film.

The film’s U.S. trailer has been classified and should arrive soon, but Universal Pictures has already released the international Krumpus trailer online – though, dubbed in languages other than English (German, in the case of the video above). Meanwhile, USA Today has posted a number of images (which you can see below) from Krampus as well as some new details from Dougherty regarding the nature of the film and its mythical title character.

In Krampus, a young boy (Emjay Anthony) is desperately clinging to his belief of Santa Claus, but his dysfunctional family leads him to question the holiday season altogether – just as a blizzard and subsequent blackout signal the Krampus’ arrival in town. Here are some new stills of the cast in action:

Adam Scott in Krampus Krampus International Trailer & Images: Have A Scary Christmas


Allison Tolman Adam Scott and Toni Collette in Krampus Krampus International Trailer & Images: Have A Scary Christmas


Emjay Anthony in Krampus Krampus International Trailer & Images: Have A Scary Christmas


Emjay Anthony in Krampus2 Krampus International Trailer & Images: Have A Scary Christmas


Krampus ornament Krampus International Trailer & Images: Have A Scary Christmas


It’s already been revealed that Krampus draws from European folklore that references the titular horned and hooved figure whose mission is to punish bad children around the Christmas holiday. With the film, Dougherty aims to not only create the quintessential image of the creature – using various depictions to create his own take – but paint him as the more sinister equivalent to Old Saint Nick, since both serve similar purposes in rewarding or punishing children accordingly.

“It’s one thing to be terrified or enthralled when you’re watching a film. To then leave the theater and realize it’s based on real myths and legends only makes it sink in even deeper. … That there is some sort of supernatural entity that keeps an eye on you all year long and determines if you’re naughty or nice.”

However, Dougherty maintains that – despite his dark duties – the Krampus is “more complex and nuanced” than your average everyday horror movie monster.

“He’s not Freddy (A Nightmare on Elm Street) or Jason (Friday the 13th) orLeatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), this unstoppable monster that kicks down your door and rampages and grabs you. If you study the myth, there’s something darkly playful about him. He’s having a good time doing what he does and he enjoys the cat-and-mouse aspect of it.”

Still, even with the scares – however playful and comedic they may be – Krampus is also infused with the heartwarming tropes commonly associated with holiday films, according to Dougherty.

“A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life are kind of nightmares that show you these broken characters who experience a darker side of divine intervention. They need to be scared straight. So it was important to elevate it. … If you do a horror film without an emotional core, you don’t really have much.”

With a cast that includes Adam Scott, Allison Tolman, David Koechner and Stefania Owen, Krampus could very well prove to be another winner for Dougherty, especially if his holiday-themed horror reins in fans of his ode to Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat. After all, nostalgia is all the rages these days and both Dougherty’s directorial debut and, by the looks of it, Krampus both heavily tap into a sensibility that was most prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s horror films. Perhaps the time is right for the Krampus to have his day in the spotlight.

Krampus hits U.S. theaters on December 4, 2015.

Source: Universal Pictures, USA Today