Violent Night Delivers on Both the Violence and the Night

The Stream: A “bad” Santa has been done many times before.

The Big Screen: David Harbour goes all out in a crazy performance as Santa Claus.

The Final Bill: Some laughs and a lot of blood equal a pretty good Christmas movie experience

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Pat Casey & Josh Miller
Stars: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references
Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes
Production Companies: 87North, Quebec Production Services, Universal Pictures
Platform: In theaters December 2, 2022
Notable Trailers: House Party (2023), Mafia Mamma, Champions, Missing, Cocaine Bear, Megan

Ho Ho Ho, Streamers! It’s Christmas movie season again. Yes, there are a lot of Christmas/Holiday themed movies that are released on the streaming services now; but there aren’t that many new Christmas movies going to theaters. Violent Night is one of the few on the big screen, so I took a trip to the theater for some Christmas fun. Here’s how it went.

Violent Night takes place on Christmas Eve when Jason Lightstone takes his estranged wife, Linda, and their precocious daughter, Trudy, to his mother’s estate for the holiday. Jason’s mother, Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo), is high-powered and very rich executive, who lords her power of her corporation and family. The family jockeys for position to get in her favor including Jason’s sister, Alva and her terrible son, Bert. A drunk and jaded Santa Claus (David Harbour) visits the estate to deliver presents at the same time as a group of mercenaries led by Jimmy Martinez (John Leguizamo) break in to rob the place. Santa Claus is a tougher opponent than the mercenaries expect. Bloody hijinks ensue.

The plot of Violent Night is pretty empty. It is just a flimsy set up for Santa Claus to be unexpectedly drunk and violent. We’ve seen “bad” Santas before, so there’s nothing really special or interesting about that. The only thing that makes this Santa different is that David Harbour is giving his all to this unhinged performance. Don’t give this guy a sledgehammer. I will say that Harbour is funny, but the humor pretty much ends there. He’s the brightest spot in this movie, which would have been pretty ho-hum without him. Harbour brings the butt-kicking, head-ripping, bloody bloody violence that is promised, and there are also some laughs that are generated by all of this over-the-top violence. While the movie delivers big time on the violence, I wish it were funnier in the other moment that get pretty boring.

On the other hand, there are some sentimental moments that don’t seem to fit. Jason’s daughter, Trudy, has a bigger part than necessary considering that this is a rated R movie. Trudy is cute and all, but she is out of place. She generates a nice relationship with Santa Claus and has a clever Home Alone moment, but I could have done without it.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Ultimately, Violent Night is a decent Christmas movie. It delivers on its promise of violence. It fails to hit the mark with the comedy. David Harbour does his best to be the violent and dangerous Santa Claus we know and love. He carries the movie. If you are going to see Violent Night, grab a bowl for an afternoon matinee. I can see Violent Night as a recurring favorite on basic cable in a couple years.