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‘Violent Night’ brings an action-packed Christmas

Despite what some people say, violent Christmas movies are not exactly a brand-new thing. If they were, then we wouldn’t have the “Is ‘Die Hard’ really a Christmas movie?” debate each year and we certainly wouldn’t have had films like ‘Reindeer Games’ surface nearly 20 years ago.

By David Griffiths

Saturday 3 December 2022, 11:00AM

David Harbour is one Santa you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. Image: IMDb

David Harbour is one Santa you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. Image: IMDb

That argument aside, what we should all agree on is that the latest action film to have a Christmas theme – Violent Night – is perhaps one of the best alternative Christmas films we have seen over the past few years.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), Violent Night’s plot centres around Santa Clause (David Harbour – Stranger Things) who has just celebrated his 1,100th birthday.

As Santa heads out on Christmas Eve though he is jaded – kids are no longer the kind and grateful kids that he knew years ago – these days they actually leave out letters demanding cash and it seems that he is also tired of delivering gifts like video games as well. His jaded, depressed mood has led him to drink to excess and it seems a wonder if he completes his Christmas journey this year.

However, Santa’s night soon makes an interesting turn when he arrives at the luxurious estate of the Lightstone family. He soon discovers that one of the few remaining nice kids, Trudy (Leah Brady – The Umbrella Academy), is in peril.

Trudy was hoping that this Christmas would see her parents, Jason (Alex Hassell – Cowboy Bebop) and Linda (Alexis Louder – Copshop), reignite their failing marriage as they spent the holiday period with her tough-yet-rude Grandmother (Beverley D’Angelo – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). However, those plans go right out the window when the estate is raided by a group of criminals, led by a gangster calling himself Scrooge (John Leguizamo – The Menu), hell-bent on stealing the family’s fortune.

With her belief in Santa still very strong Trudy calls upon Santa to help rescue her and her family and the jaded Santa has to decide whether to enter what looks like a losing battle or do his best to help out.

Films such as Dead Snow and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters have previously revealed that Tommy Wirkola is one of the most creative directors currently working in the industry and Violent Night only goes even further to show his creativity.

Given the premise of this film it couldn’t have turned B-Grade really, really quickly, but the good news is that it doesn’t. If anything, Violent Night does all it can to separate itself from other alternative Christmas films out there by capturing that special magic and life lessons encased in movies like The Santa Clause or even It’s A Wonderful Life, but then adding a violent element that sees major carnage and blood splatter all throughout the film. It’s a mix that doesn’t sound like it should work – but by some Christmas miracle does.

It’s at this point that we should point out that if you are a little bit squeamish when it comes to blood and horror that this isn’t the film for you. Yes, there is a lot of blood, but to the credit of Wirkola and his screenwriters, Pat Casey (Sonic The Hedgehog 2) and Josh Miller (Sonic The Hedgehog 2), every single kill in this film is creative as characters look to use whatever around them as weapons. One standout is certainly Santa’s kill on a thug with a Christmas star… that will stay in people’s minds for a long time to come.

While Tommy Wirkola certainly does a lot to show what a talented director he is with Violent Night this film would have failed if the actor playing Santa didn’t get everything 100% correct… and luckily David Harbour steps into that role sensationally well.

Harbour is the perfect actor for this role as he is someone who can show heart in the more touching scenes, be dramatic when the films calls upon him to show Santa’s depression and most important for this role can hold his own in an action sequence. Sure, this isn’t the kind of role that people will talk about when it comes to Oscars, but here Harbour is sensational and is one of the reasons why this film will be long remembered.

If you are an action fan, then Violent Night is set to become a cult classic for you. This film delivers everything that you could possibly want from it – from comedy, through to crime capers, quips about other Christmas films and some amazing action/horror sequences. Tommy Wirkola you have done it again.

Violent Night is rated ‘15’ and is showing in Phuket now.

3.5/5 Stars

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at 

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