Yes, Christmas is over and the credit card bills have (or should’ve) been paid by now, but Violent Night works as a crazy balls-to-the-wall story about Santa Claus (David Harbour) helping a family at a wealthy estate that’s been taken hostage by terrorists. The trailer have made it look like Santa is just some crazy John Wick meets John McClane guy but it’s far from how he is at the beginning.
It’s Christmas Eve in Greenwhich, Conn., when an estranged married couple, Jason Lightstone (Alex Hassell) and Linda (Alexis Louder,) have brought their 7-year-old daughter, Trudy (Leah Brady,) to spend the holidays with Jason’s cold-hearted but very rich and wealthy mother, Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo). She lives in a compound estate in the middle of nowhere surrounded by armed guards at all time.
Also present is Jason’s snooty sister, Alva (Edi Patterson), her boyfriend, Morgan Steel (Cam Gigandet), a wannabe action star who hopes Gertrude will finance his next movie. And there’s Alva’s teenage son, Bertrude “Bert” Lightstone (Alexander Elliott), an influencer. The night goes to hell when a bunch of terrorists led by Jimmy Martinez (John Leguizamo) using the code name “Ebenezer Scrooge,” kill all the guards and take the Lightstones hostage. Their goal is to steal $300 million in cash from Gertrude’s high-security vault.
Little does anyone know that Santa is at the house when the terrorist strike. He’s going through some problems with Mrs. Claus as well as losing faith in his job. Unable to get himself back up the chimney, the reindeer take off when they hear machine gun fire, stranding Santa behind. He fights with one terrorist and is able to dispatch him when the terrorist falls out of a window on a spike.
Santa kills another terrorist with a Christmas tree star and tries to call for help on the radio but he comes across a channel Trudy is using on a walkie-talkie Jason got for her “to talk to Santa.” As the two speak, Santa finally gets the courage to take on the terrorists and restore his hope and joy in the job. But no one believes Santa is the real Santa even when he tells Jimmy and some others information he wouldn’t know if he wasn’t omniscient.
The violence is over the top and erratic. At one time, Trudy is able to get away and set up a Home Alone style set of traps that look harmless but turns out to be deadly. And even though he has access to pick up whatever gun he can after dispatching one person, Santa is a little more hands-on as he uses a sledgehammer and even a candy cane with the bottom shaped into a ice-pick.
You can clearly see that writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller probably asked themselves why the fake trailer for The Night the Reindeer Died in Scrooged can’t be a movie. Then, they wrote the script. But there is some clever casting. You can’t help but see the Die Hard comparison with this movie. Leguizamo played one of the terrorists in Die Hard 2. And D’Angelo appeared in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Louder appeared in the 2021 action thriller Copshop which pitted Gerard Butler against Frank Grillo in a manly mano a mano.
If you go into this movie expecting anything serious, you’re going to be disappointed. I could’ve done without the scene at the beginning where Santa leans over and pukes out of his sleigh on to a bewildered person looking at him on a rooftop. But there’s some dark comedy about watching in-laws who have been fighting coming together to beat a terrorist to death with hot pokers. Let’s face it, Harry and Marv would’ve been killed many times over in the two Home Alone movies.
Harbour works great as Santa as he is able portray the hulking figure he is as well as showing some humor and humanity to the role. I kinda didn’t care for the other Lightstone characters aside from Trudy and Linda. But Tommy Wirkola, who made the Dead Snow movies, knows to make the main focus Jolly Old Nick kicking ass. Whether this movie will become another holiday favorite like Die Hard or Home Alone has yet to be seen. Hopefully, it will play for people who have grown tired of seeing Bing Crosby tapdance with Danny-fuckin-Kaye.
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