THE MOVIE GUY — Santa Claus is coming to town in “Violent Night”

Published 12:05 am Friday, December 2, 2022

“Violent Night”

Universal Pictures

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

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Starring David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo, Leah Brady, Alex Hassell and Cam Gigandet

Rated R

2 ½ Stars


You better watch out because Santa Claus is coming to town, and this time he’s going to punish some of the bad guys on his naughty list in the new, unapologetically brutal Christmas movie known as “Violent Night.”

Look, this is one of those movies that doesn’t really require a review. If you’ve seen the poster, where David Harbour playing Santa Claus is splattered with blood and chewing on a candy cane as if it were a cigar, then you’ll get the vibe and are able to decide if this movie is for you.

For my part, I do enjoy a darkly comic action movie, so I had a blast watching Jolly Old St. Nick take on a highly trained group of mercenaries. Then again, I’ll understand if grandma may want to skip this film.

The story itself is pretty simple. A disillusioned Santa is delivering presents one Christmas Eve when he runs into a bickering family being held hostage at their mansion.

Because the little girl (Leah Brady) is still on his nice list, and because gunfire scares his reindeer away, it’s up to Santa to take on the bad guys, including their leader (John Leguizamo), who uses “Mr. Scrooge” as his criminal alias.

Let the holiday bloodletting begin!

There are a lot of funny moments where Santa turns Christmas decorations into lethal weapons.

There’s also a nice commentary on “Home Alone,” of all movies, where the traps set for the bad guys are recreated, but this time we get to see just how dangerous they would really be.

I must admit I grinned my way through most of this mayhem, which is obviously the whole point of the movie.

Not all of the action is top notch, which is interesting as one of the producers is David Leitch, the man behind “John Wick” and “Deadpool.”

I was expecting better things from this Santa smackdowns.

The humor was also hit-and-miss, with Christmas jokes flying everywhere, but seldom truly landing. There are a lot of gross out gags, which are more cringe-worthy than chuckle-rousing.

Still, I doubt that anybody looks at the poster and thinks first about the humor, so the comedy that does work ends up being a slight bonus.

Perhaps the most surprising plus is the Christmas message does still resonate, despite the un-Christmas tenor of the film. This is a film that revels in a child’s belief in Santa and the idea that the holiday has become too materialistic.

Those are surprisingly wholesome thoughts that somehow manage to sneak through all the bloodshed.

Ultimately, “Violent Night” ends up being exactly what the poster promised.

It’s silly and very bloody. If you’re thrilled about the idea of watching Santa kicking some holiday bad guy butt, then “Violent Night” might just be the perfect night at the movies for you.


Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at