‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, a gang of mercenaries invaded to steal $300 million cash, not knowing that St. Nicholas would stand in their path. This is the premise for Violent Night, a movie that delivers exactly what it promises in its title.

If there was ever any doubt as to what to expect, the film can be more-or-less summed up by a moment that features in both the film and trailer: Santa – played to great effect by David Harbour – pauses pre-battle-royale to declare to no one in particular that it’s “time for some season’s beatings.” Is the rest of the film as cringe-worthy as this? Yes. Is it as overloaded with sentiment as it is gory violence? Yes again. Is it ridiculous fun regardless? Hell yes.

Of course, there’s more to Violent Night than festive puns and blood splatter. Harbour’s Santa is all out of hope, lamenting the youth of today who just “want, crave, consume.” The villain of the piece – code name: Scrooge (John Leguizamo) – is rallying against the rich, whose “poor employees don’t even have enough to keep Tiny Tim warm.” As understandable as these sentiments are meant to (and might) be, none of the characters are relatable or even dimensional enough for the film’s messages to land.

Instead, Violent Night is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Reimagining Santa as a once-Viking-war-lord with an affinity for bloodshed (complete with a Mjölnir-esque hammer named Skull Crusher), while combining the character archetypes of Die Hard with the bloody slapstick of Home Alone, it’s in absurdity that this film thrives.

Honestly, what more could you ask for from a film called Violent Night?

An erratic mix of heartfelt sentiment and brutal chaos, Violent Night is a gift. The bath salts of Christmas films, it isn’t a movie we asked for, or even a movie we needed, but it’s one we’ll unabashedly enjoy anyway.



CAST: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo

DIRECTOR: Tommy Wirkola

WRITERS: Pat Casey, Josh Miller

SYNOPSIS: When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).