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David Harbour’s Santa Brings a Bloody Edge in ‘Violent Night’

We’ve seen countless renditions of Good Old Saint Nick on screen and with the holiday season just right around the corner, we’re about to see another one but this time, with David Harbour. His take on Father Christmas, though, has a very interesting twist: Santa may not be as saintly and kind as he may seem and can actually kick ass. Literally. And if you put some thought into it, that does kind of make sense. I mean, the man sneaks into people’s houses across the world overnight once a year. He was bound to pick up some moves. Anyway, here’s everything we know so far about Violent Night.

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Plot and synopsis of Violent Night

Violent Night is a dark and twisted take on Santa Claus who as it turns out, isn’t just about cookies, candy, and his legendary belly laugh. Think: Die Hard but it’s Santa. In the trailer, we watch as a group of goons break into a home of a wealthy family just hoping to celebrate Christmas to rob them and loot their safe with over $300 million dollars inside it. As they’re attempting to pull all this off, Santa is off making his annual Christmas delivery rounds when he’s interrupted by the hostage takers when he lands above the home’s roof. 

The trailer looks very promising and entertaining so far, with David Harbour donning a red hat and beard and using classic holiday objects for weapons—candy canes, the bag where he stores his gifts, ice skates, Christmas balls—you name it. This Santa, clearly, is taking his naughty-or-nice list way too seriously and we are seated. Throughout the jampacked clip, we watch as Santa uses candy canes and ice skates to stab bad guys and leave hand grenades that coincidentally look like “lumps of coal” in their suits before letting them go off. There is also, of course, his team of reindeers, whom towards the end of the short trailer we get a funny glimpse of.  

Violent Night’s official synopsis reads as follows:

“From 87North, the bare-knuckle producers of Nobody, John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Bullet Train and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw comes a coal-dark holiday action-comedy that says you should always bet on red.

“When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus (David Harbour, Black Widow, Stranger Things series) is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no saint.”

Cast of Violent Night

On the director’s chair is Tommy Wirkola, whose prior work includes Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Norwegian comedy-horror series Dead Snow. Violent Night isn’t his first attempt at transforming a classic story into something a little darker and grittier with the previously mentioned Hansel and Gretel retelling, in addition to Kill Buljo, which was a parody of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. As for the film’s screenplay, all credits go to Pat Casey and Josh Miller, who previously worked on the recent Sonic the Hedgehog films. 

One of the more interesting parts of the film is its cast. Again, Stranger Things star David Harbour is set to be playing Father Christmas. He is joined by John Leguizamo as Ben, Beverly D’Angelo as Gertrude, Alex Hassell as Skyler, and Alexis Louder as Margie Matthews, as well as Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet, André Eriksen in the wider cast. 

It’s been confirmed that Leguizamo’s Ben will be the primary antagonist of the film, with his character being the leader of the hired mercenaries who break into the home. As for the family, aside from being held captive, they have separate dramas of their own. Their matriarch Gertrude (D’Angelo’s character) loves to make her kids battle it out for her affection (because what dysfunctional Christmas movie isn’t complete without a parental authority who just wants their kids to fight over who should be loved best), while her son and his estranged wife (played by Alex Hassell and Alexis Louder, respectively) do their best to get through the holidays together for their daughter Trudy’s sake. 

Trudy is, of course, played by a great young actor in the form of Leah Brady, whom Harbour shows to have a great relationship with in the trailer. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter for the film, David Harbour shared some interesting insights on the making of the film. 

“The great thing about Santa is that I really got to investigate him,” the actor said. “We all sit around and tell our kids that some big, fat, jolly guy with a red suit comes down the chimney, eats some cookies and gives you a present, but who is that guy? When you really start to get down to the marrow and the core of who this individual was, it makes complete sense.”

He further described his experience on the film and working with 87North as one of his most challenging physical roles to date. He said, “It is by far the most difficult physical thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. We started training in early December [2021], and I felt exhaustion like I’ve never felt in my whole life.”

When asked if he thinks that Violent Night will make it into everyone’s regular rotation of Christmas films, the actor admitted that he never considered it as a possibility during production.

“My intention is always to just make a great movie,” he continued. “It’s never where it will go, but the fact that people talk that way about [Violent Night] is kind of incredible. They’re like, ‘Oh, it’ll be a Christmas movie that people watch,’ but I didn’t really think about that when I was making it. It was much more about this action movie with heart, but you’re right. I watch a Miracle on 34th Street and Bad Santa and all these movies during Christmas, so why wouldn’t it be watched in that way? I just never considered it.” 

Violent Night Release Date

Violent Night first premiered last October 7 during the New York Comic Con but is set for nationwide theatrical release on December 2, 2022.

(featured image: 87North)

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Danielle Baranda
Danielle is a twenty-something writer and postgrad student based in the Philippines. She loves books, movies, her cat, and traveling. In her spare time, she enjoys shooting 35mm film and going to concerts.

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