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‘Violent Night’ Review: Santa Packs a PUNCH

4/5 candy canes

david harbour as santa claus in violent night

Love Die Hard and are annoying about how it is a “Christmas” movie? Well then let me present to you an actual Christmas movie with a holiday twist: Violent Night. A movie that never shies away from what it actually is, the movie stars David Harbour as hot Santa. Yes, that is redundant because it’s Harbour so whoever he’s playing is instantly hot but alas.

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Violent Night takes us into the world of Santa who is maybe hating the fact that he is Kris Kringle and doesn’t want to do this job anymore. Disillusioned and annoyed by his life as Jolly Ole Saint Nick, he’s roped into a family’s messy drama when a team of thieves (led by John Leguizamo) kidnap the family on Christmas and force them to tell them where their money is.

When Trudy (Leah Brady) still believes in the Christmas spirit, she walkie-talkie’s to Santa in hopes that he will save her family. What she ends up getting is Harbour’s rough and tough Santa coming to the rescue.

I don’t know how to describe this movie other than saying this: It knows what it is and it leans hard into it in such a way that really works. Because when you go to sit down and watch a Christmas action movie, you want…well, a Christmas action movie.

You don’t have to watch gooey Christmas movies anymore

Sometimes, you just like to watch Santa use a hammer like Thor and thoroughly destroy some bad guys and that’s what happens. There’s some lore into why Santa is a badass and it’s pretty cool that they build it in to the story rather than just having Santa suddenly be able to kick some ass but hey, it’s hot David Harbour so either way, I wouldn’t have complained.

But it is, at its core, a movie about a young girl trying to get her parents back together but also a family trying to survive an attack on their home. So it has those Christmas elements in the midst of Santa using his ability as the jolly red man who brings us presents to his advantage.

What works about this movie is that so often we’re left with holiday movies that are about a woman going to a small town for Christmas and her childhood crush or some farmer or the mechanic all fall in love with her and it’s a story about finding the love of your life at Christmas. And…well, I’m frankly tired of those movies so watching Santa just straight up murder some guys is a nice change of pace.

It is what you expect

Violent Night doesn’t try and pretend like it is anything other than a badass Christmas movie. It comes in hot, keeps you engaged in the Lightstone family, and also brings Beverly D’Angelo back to the Christmas world (having famously played Ellen Griswold in Christmas Vacation).

So go into this movie with an open heart and embrace David Harbour’s Santa into your life because that’s the kind of Christmas I want this year minus the actual violence, I’m saying I’d love for David Harbour’s Santa to come down my chimney. Thanks!

(image: Universal Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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