Violent Night (2022) – A Review

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A review of the 2022 Christmas action comedy Violent Night, starring David Harbour as a violent, kick-ass Santa Claus who takes on a team of terrorists one Christmas Eve

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It’s Christmas Eve and Santa Claus (David Harbour) is very busy. He’s got a lot of presents to deliver to all the good little boys and girls of the world. Between munching on some cookies and doing shots of bourbon, Santa makes a stop at an estate in Connecticut where inside a rich dysfunctional family is attempting to make merry.

This holiday turns into violent scene, when a team of mercenaries led by a man who calls himself ‘Scrooge’ (John Leguizamo) break into this mansion compound, kill all the security, demand the family’s giant vault to be opened and they can make off with millions in cash!

Luckily, Saint Nick is on the grounds and is ready to save the day! We learn he hasn’t always been a jolly old elf, but thousands of years ago he was a skilled warrior. This Christmas, Santa will rediscover his fighting skills and lay waste to this group of baddies using any holiday-themed item as a weapon to put a gory end to their plans.

Violent-Night-2022-Christmas-action-comedy-John-LeguizamoViolent Night is something of a holiday mix of Die Hard, Home Alone and John Wick. Director Tommy Wirkola (who also directed the zombie film Dead Snow) aims to make an over-the-top Christmas tale with gore, blood, knockdown fights all with dark comedy sprinkled over it as it winks at the audience. Mission accomplished!

There have a been quite the variety of Christmas movies over the years. The ‘Christmas movie’ isn’t limited to schmaltzy Hallmark movies anymore. Action and horror themed holiday flicks have been picking up some steam. Silent Night, Deadly Night, Fat Man, It’s A Wonderful Knife, The Mean One, The Naughty Nine. Christmas movies come in all shape and genres nowadays.

Violent Night is easily one of the most entertaining genre Christmas movies and almost seems like it was immediately destined to be a beloved cult hit. It has a very simple premise and delivers on what you want to see from a movie promising a kick ass Santa Claus. The action is excessive and heavy on the R-rated violence. It knows it’s completely silly and embraces it with gusto.

While the terrorists are trying to figure out who this mystery figure is that’s killing them one by one, the family is left in the living room bickering. Beverly D’Angelo (whose casting must of been something of a homage to Christmas Vacation) is the icy family matriarch, while Leguizamo gleefully plays the head bad guy and means business this Christmas Eve. 

The supporting characters, both family and terrorists have some fun moments and the film never really slows up or drags. It’s without a doubt that Harbour runs off with the movie and his angry, jaded Santa Claus is what you’ll remember most from the film.

Violent-Night-2022-Christmas-action-comedy-David-Harbour-as-Santa-ClausAnd with good reason. Anytime Harbour is onscreen he’s either comedically complaining about his undedicated reindeer leaving logs on rooftops, trying to save himself or just enraged and breaking limbs off any baddie that comes within his reach. The kills he manages to do are creative and humorous in some twisted ways.

The film doesn’t let up until it reaches its climactic showdown between Saint Nick and Scrooge. a fiery showdown between them with a really fun final victory that nicely smashes together the ‘magic’ of Santa and disgusting death. reindeer leaving logs on roofs and Santa pissing off his sleigh. 

Did you ever think there would be a film where Santa Claus uses a snowblower to kill terrorists.

The other main thread in the story, is the young daughter asking for Santa’s help. She herself gets into the act when she holds up in the attic and rigs a ‘Home Alone‘-type of everyday item defenses against the bad guys. Unlike that film however, Violent Night doesn’t have cartoonish results when bowling balls fall onto people’s head or them walking it off after falling off of ladders. It’s comically brutal!  

Violent-Night-2022-Christmas-action-movie-David-Harbour-as-Santa-ClausViolent Night has been a popular hit since its release in 2022. There have been reports a follow-up it being planned. So, perhaps we’ll see more extreme adventures of Harbour’s Saint Nick. Let’s hope! I’d be curious what else the filmmakers can come up with for this Santa.

The film gives you what you expect from it, joyfully leans into its R-rated violence and serves up an entertaining off-beat, gory Santa Claus that will probably become an annual holiday watch for action fans. 

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