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'Violent Night' is a new, gruesome and refreshing take on Santa

Sienna Thompson reviews Violent Night, a gory take on the classic Santa-flick and shows that Christmas movies don't have to be all about love and magic!

By Sienna Thompson, English, Second year

Not feeling satisfied with all the sentimental, heart-warming, and cosy Christmas films out there? Looking for something more action-packed, funny, maybe even a little dark whilst still retaining the festive spirit? I have good news. Violent Night (2022) is a dark comedy meets Christmas film that will leave you in stitches with David Harbour’s performance as the drunken, grumpy, and kick-ass Santa.

Violent Night // Photo by Allen Fraser, courtesy of IMDB and Universal Studios

We meet Santa in our very own hometown of Bristol, feeling fed up with the spirit of Christmas being lost and wishing to retire. As he delivers presents on Christmas Eve, he becomes entangled in the mess of the Lightstone family as they are held hostage by a group of robbers seeking the family’s wealth.

It becomes apparent very early in the film that this Santa has some serious fighting skills as we watch very violent shots of him taking out some of the robbers. There is brute force with children’s presents, stabbing with festive ornaments, impaling on an icicle, and even a Christmas tree star through the eye, before being turned on and setting the robber alight. Very festive violence...

Violent Night // Photo by Allen Fraser, courtesy of IMDB and Universal Studios

It is revealed later that Santa comes from Viking descent, which explains his skills as a fighter. He tells all this to Trudy (Leah Brady), his young accomplice who is desperate to help Santa save her family from peril. Their relationship is truly heart-warming and hilarious to see unravel. As well as this, even hearing of Santa’s love for Mrs Claus is very sweet as a break from all the violence.

Trudy’s shining moment comes from the enactment of her most recent Christmas watch Home Alone (1990).  She recreates her own traps for Gingerbread (André Eriksen) and Candy Cane (Mitra Suri), paying homage to Kevin McAllister. Her traps brutally injure them both and manage to kill Gingerbread while Santa finishes off Candy Cane.

Violent Night // Photo by Allen Fraser, courtesy of IMDB and Universal Studios

John Leguizamo as Scrooge is brilliant. He brings witty humour to the screen as the main antagonist and seems quite similar in character to Harry from Home Alone. His frustration with Santa and his not believing that he is the real Santa proves for hilarious commentary... before he meets his excruciating demise being dismembered forced up a chimney.

As a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and is very self-aware of its stupidity and dark humour, there is very little to 'critique' it on. The family members all played a part in bringing ignorance to the table, and there was the perfect amount of holiday spirit to still make it a Christmas film. The gore was tolerable, to an extent, with some parts making me cringe in disgust and others making me laugh.

Violent Night // Photo by Allen Fraser, courtesy of IMDB and Universal Studios

Overall, Violent Night is a very strong Christmas film for those looking for some comedy and action during the holidays; it certainly lives up to its title. David Harbour will have you in shock, laughter, amazement, and disbelief, as he wishes us all a Merry Christmas and reminds us to stay on the nice list.

Featured Image: Photo by Allen Fraser, IMDB and Universal Studies

Is Violent Night a new Christmas classic?