Violent Night (2022)

David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder,
When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).
  • 6.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-12-21 Added:
  • Patrick Casey, Josh Miller, Writer:
  • Tommy Wirkola, Director:
  • Guy Danella, David Leitch, Kelly McCormick, Producer:

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10 / 10

Brutal delight

Such a wonderful spin on a horror/comedy where Santa Claus is the hero! David Harbor is absolutely perfect for this role has the best voice and great thrill to see in anything he's in! To me this is one of the best Christmas movies out there along with Bad Santa. I would defiantly agree with anyone that loved Violent Night, it's a great mix of Home Alone, John Wick, and any horror Christmas movie. Tommy Wirkola directed a pure blast of entertainment! I sorta can see how it could get hate the family was a little obnoxious at times but I void that out cause everything else positive outweighs heaps.

7 / 10

Santa's got a brand new bag

Greetings again from the darkness. HO-HO-HO! Who is ready for the best ever Santa slasher movie? Admittedly, it's a narrow sub-genre and anyone that knows me or reads my reviews, knows full well that this is not the type of movie I typically recommend. However, it's the season for charity and director Tommy Wirkola (HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, 2013 - sequel in the works) and co-writers Pat Casey and John Miller (the screenwriters behind the "Sonic the Hedgehog" films) have gifted us an extremely violent and often very funny Christmas present, replete with a sledgehammer-slinging Santa Claus.

We first meet an inebriated Santa ("I'm on a break") at a local pub, where he explains to a mall Santa why he has become so disenchanted with the job ... greedy, self-centered kids who only want more video games. The booze numbs Santa's disgust as he heads off on his sleigh ... and Wirkola delivers the first shocking moment as Santa's barf keys us into the type of twisted tale we are about to experience. David Harbour (best known for "Stranger Things" and HELLBOY, 2019) is absolutely all-in for this far-from-glamorous portrait of jolly ol' Saint Nick. On his rounds, Santa raids household liquor stashes while chomping on cookies and eschewing skim milk. He's a full-blown slob, yet still holds a soft spot for "nice" kids, while having little mercy for the "naughty" among us.

Most of the story takes place at the Lightstone family compound, where one-percenter Gertrude (CHRISTMAS VACATION alum Beverly D'Angelo) is the foul-mouthed matriarch ruling over her entitled and unlikable family consisting of daughter Alva (Edi Patterson) and her airhead-actor husband Morgan (Cam Gigandet) and their poser teenage son Bert (Alexander Elliot). Also present for the festive evening are Gertrude's son Jason (Alex Hassell), his estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder) and their precious 7-year-old daughter Trudy (Leah Brady). Santa arrives at the Lightstone mansion not long before a team of mercenaries, led by Mr Scrooge (John Leguizamo), storm the place and take the family members hostage. Their mission is to break into the family vault and abscond with $300 million in cash.

What follows is a demented mash-up of DIE HARD (1989), HOME ALONE (1990), BAD SANTA (2003), and THOR (2011). Deadly weapons used here include your expected firearms, but also a finely-honed candy cane, an icicle, a skating shoe, and a Christmas tree star, among other holiday items. Most prominent is the sledgehammer wielded by Santa, and the flashback to his pre-Santa days for explanation. The violent action is plentiful, and it's well-balanced with countless lines of comedy. Surprisingly, there is a story nestled in amongst the mayhem, and the heart of it revolves around the bond between Santa and young Trudy. She's a true believer in him and that overrides his uncertainty about the job, and inspires him to stick around for the fight. Santa can't explain the mystique of Christmas "magic", but he does know an 1100 year marriage has its ups and downs.

Obviously, this is not one for the kiddos (it's a hard R-rating), and they should be shielded from this Yuletide yuck. Director Wirkola has delivered an instant holiday classic for those seeking the bizarro world flicks contrasting to the more respectable family fare of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Who would have ever thought that Festivus might be the safer holiday?

Opens in theaters on December 2, 2022.

8 / 10

Violent Night is a modern Christmas classic!

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"Violent Night is one of the biggest surprises of the year, instantly becoming a contemporary Christmas classic! David Harbour expertly embodies a shockingly brutal, savage version of Santa Claus that somehow still delivers lovely messages.

Fighting sequences feature truly violent practical stunts, taking advantage of the R rating to provide unmeasurable amounts of gore. Creative use of Christmas songs will leave audiences crying with laughter.

A brilliant homage to the seasonal genre classics that should be seen in a packed theater!"

Rating: A-

9 / 10

A potential Christmas Classic that can only be shown on cable

Where do I start other than to say so, so much fun. This movie runs the gamut to sappy Christmas themes to Clockwork Orange ultra-violence to the magic of Ted. There are other connections to a few other movies but I really can't name them as it would be a spoiler and I don't want to deny anyone from enjoying this one full force. Harbour is absolutely fantastic. Lots of luggage/issues with most of the supporting characters and that just adds to the constant entertainment in many subtle ways. If you can handle the crossing-the-line-a-little-bit violence, this is one very enjoyable holiday season movie.

7 / 10

Exactly what you'd expect.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

When Violent Night is good, it's really good. It isn't always nearly as entertaining as it could be, but it definitely capitalises on its goofy premise in all the right ways at various points.

The violence is blunt and rudimentary, but there's something strikingly effective about it. Each hit is loud and visceral, and many of the actual deaths are a lot more creative than I was expecting them to be, even if the violence leads me up to each death is pretty by-the-numbers.

I was pleasantly surprised with the small but satisfying character arcs that the script weaves into the simple story. Santa is given a cynical outlook on humanity and himself to overcome, the family has tension to work out, and the mythology of Santa's backstory is actually given a twist to make his capacity for violence make sense in this movie.

There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about any of this, but it's all crafted with care and it's investing enough that I could easily see myself watching this in subsequent years.

Its aforementioned strengths help it largely overcome its weak supporting actors, dialogue that's sometimes so corny it's cringey, and its few too many scenes of characters sitting and talking.