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'Violent Night' Makes Use of Davis Harbour's Unique Set of Gifts

[L-R] Alexis Louder as LINDA, David Harbour as SANTA CLAUS in VIOLENT NIGHT

Ever since Stranger Things, David Harbour has made a brand for himself by getting the crap beat out of himself and living to see another day. While he's doing everything to wreck his dad bod and parent Eleven, he spends most on-screen time having dreadfully painful things done to his body. Director Tommy Wirkola (What Happened to Monday) channels Harbour's unique set of gifts into being the Bruce Willis version of Santa Clause in Violent Night, tailor-made for kids who grew up on Home Alone and think the best part is the brutalization of the Wet Bandits. Violent Night is written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller (Sonic the Hedgehog movies)

Notice I said the Bruce Willis version and not the John Wick version of Santa Clause -- an important distinction to make. Harbour's Santa is not a slick hitman with all the right movies. The man has trained to be a distributor of toys, not a handler of weapons. Santa fumbles, runs, trips, falls, and experiences pain in almost every part of his body. The cringeworthy-fights are messy affairs that end in disarray. But if you have wanted to see Santa use all of the holiday kitsch to tame assassins, this is your movie. A tinsel garland can become a noose, a loaded Christmas stocking becomes a rock sock, and a star the sharpest blade. 


Although Jason (Alex Hassell) and Linda's (Alexis Louder) marriage is on the rocks, they set aside their conflicts to give Trudy (Leah Brady) a happy Christmas at Lightstone Estate, the home of Jason's wealthy mother Gertrude (Beverly D'Angelo). Also in attendance is Jason's sister Alva (Edi Patterson), her husband Morgan (Cam Gigandet), and teenage son Bert (Alexander Elliot). Like Gooper and Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, these siblings normally feel the need to compete for the matriarch's affections and the promise of a bigger piece of the family inheritance. The insane wealth contained at Lightstone Estate becomes a catalyst for the central conflict. 

While the awkward family drama plays out, codename Scrooge (John Leguizamo) and his band of festively costumed-thugs, break into the home, prepared to scare the family into giving them all the money in the family safe. Meanwhile a disgruntled Santa (David Harbour) prepares for another meaningless Christmas. He misses his home and Mrs. Clause and spends his time drunk. When Santa discovers the heist in progress, he decides to help Trudy save her family by taking out the henchmen one by one. 

[L-R] Alex Hassell as JASON, Edi Patterson as ALVA, Alexis Louder as LINDA, Leah Brady as TRUDY, David Harbour as SANTA CLAUS in VIOLENT NIGHT

If you think this paper-thin story sounds stuffed full of stereotypes and tropes, you are absolutely right. Wirkola, Casey, and Miller take delight in recycling as many Christmas story/heist-gone-wrong stories as possible. What sets the movie apart is the violent and creative ways Santa snuffs the bad guys out. Make sure the kiddies are snug in their beds before pressing the play button. The violent kills in this movie earn Violent Night a solid rated-R warning. This isn't a showpiece for anyone except Harbour, although seeing D'Angelo in another holiday film made me slightly misty. 

This is an instant Christmas classic . . . for viewers who relish mega slashers like Terrifier 2 or who are tired of fuzzy, sentimental Christmas flicks. The rapport between Santa and Trudy comes dangerously close to warming the heart, but the snarky humor and greedy characters keep things from becoming too magical. So grab some of that boozy eggnog and enjoy an adrenaline rush with Violent Night.

Release info: In theaters December 2, 2022

Final score: 3 out of 5