Offbeat Christmas movies have been all the rage lately, from the designation of Die Hard as a Christmas movie, to other holiday themed films such as Bad Santa, it’s fun to get a crazy twist on the classic holiday movie trend. Violent Night, the latest David Harbour vehicle, takes a page out of the book of Deadpool to create some bloody, mindless, holiday fun. It’s far from an instant classic, but it’s an entertaining watch nonetheless.
In Violent Night, Santa Claus (David Harbour) is starting to feel the pains of having a job for hundreds of years. The holiday spirit seems to be missing from his annual adventure around the globe. He’s traded in his jolly title for that of a budding alcoholic, yet he still has a job to do. Enter the Lightstone family, and a massive fortune that Scrooge (John Leguizamo) and his team of mercenaries are trying to steal, right around the time Santa stops by to slide down the chimney. Someone has to save the day, and that someone is Saint Nick.
Violent Night is one part Deadpool, one part Bad Santa, one part Die Hard, and one part Home Alone. You’d think that kind of mix would result in something truly special, but it doesn’t reach the heights of any of these individual films. There’s plenty of over the top violence, and some decent action sequences, but Violent Night has difficulty bringing anything new to the table.
The dialogue and story are fairly bland, written by the same duo that brought us the last two Sonic the Hedgehog films. While those movies weren’t bad, they were pretty straightforward kids films with scripts that were average at best. That same middle of the road quality is found in Violent Night, and prevents the film from ever reaching greatness.
With all that said, Violent Night does get crazy. If you’re not interested in an in-depth story with well-articulated dialogue, Violent Night has plenty of mindless insanity to keep audiences entertained. David Harbour is a treat to watch, and you can tell he’s clearly having a great time as a not-so-jolly Saint Nick. Imagine his Stranger Things character, but instead of trying to save Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), he’s Santa attempting to save a family from a horde of mercs, and things are about to get bloody.
The rest of the cast does what they can with the generic script, but even the best actor would have difficulty elevating this material. Leguizamo tries to add a layer of depth to Scrooge (the code name of his merc, not the Charles Dickens’ character), but his motivations are vague at best, and his plan isn’t well thought out.
Violent Night won’t become a holiday classic for most people, but it is entertaining enough for one night of mindless, violent fun. There’s just enough gore to make it an enjoyable watch without having to look away every time someone dies, and David Harbour is a joy to watch as Santa Claus. Next time perhaps a better writing team will handle the script, but for now, enjoy a couple of hours of fun.
About Violent Night
Synopsis: When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Stars: David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo
Runtime: 1 Hour, 52 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.