As much as I enjoyed Violent Night, there’s not a lot to say about it. It’s about Santa Clause deciding to give up on Christmas until he finds a family being held hostage by mercenaries, and his big warm heart urges him to help free them. Santa then proceeds to rip out eye balls, set people’s heads on fire and crack some ribs with a sledgehammer to free them. It works well enough alongside some shorter scenes of the family’s young daughter making traps for the intruders that the film can quite accurately be described as Die Hard meets Home Alone.
David Harbour takes up the role of Santa and is the whole reason this film works. When your premise is as out there as this one, especially when using public domain characters, you tend to either have a big flop or stick the landing with very little middle ground. Thankfully, Harbour oozes charisma as Santa thanks to his utter devotion and willingness to lean into how stupid his character is. He is Santa, yes. But he’s also a Santa who’s backstory is that he used to be an ancient viking warrior who got magical powers, and used them to help kids once a year, but has been so jaded by modern commercialisation and capitalism that he just doesn’t care much for delivering gifts. Silly as a whoopie cushion, but just as funny if you like laughing at the crude and absurd.
I like the music in this film – a lot of the action is just set to slightly remixed and amped up classic, lyric-less Christmas songs. I like the violence. There’s enough blood and gore to really capitalise on the edgy tone, but not so much that you feel like the film makers lack restraint. And it is through all this, surprisingly, still a pretty damn good family movie with all the same themes you’d expect from a totally normal, non-violent Christmas film and delivered in mostly the same way, just with murder in-between it all.
And that’s Violent Night. Again, not a lot to say. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s sweet and to the point which is about as much as a film with this premise can be and aim to do, so I’d consider that high enough praise. For that, I would recommend it.
Finally, as this post is going up on the 25th… Merry Christmas to all.