“Violent Night” is a gory take on Christmas films

Due to the success of Violent Night, the film received 43 million dollars worldwide. The film generally received positive reviews.

Photo Credit: Photo via Universal Pictures under Creative Commons Licence

Due to the success of Violent Night, the film received 43 million dollars worldwide. The film generally received positive reviews.

By: Joseph Sanfilippo, Managing Editor of Entertainment and Media

Christmas time allows families to get together and celebrate gift-giving traditions. Children await for Santa to come down the chimney and deliver their favorite toys. Besides the food and gifts, movies are also a part of the tradition. Classics like “Elf” and “A Christmas Story” dominate streaming during the holiday season. This year, holiday cinema took a more action-bent turn with a grittier Santa in “Violent Night.”

“Violent Night” plot

“Violent Night” follows an intense team of mercenaries that hold the wealthy Lightstone family hostage. While the mercenaries are planning on stealing the Lightstone’s wealth, Santa (David Harbour) is on the campus of the mansion ready to attack anyone on the naughty list. Santa must team up with Trudy Lifestone to save her family and Christmas Eve.


The heart of “Violent Night” stems from Harbour’s performance. Viewers will appreciate its irreverent nature due to how gory the film is. It’s a Christmas movie that’ll be remembered for decades for just how unique it is. Harbour plays a cynical, yet fun-loving Santa who’s frustrated kids don’t have the same Christmas spirit. This iteration of Santa is motivated by Trudy, but he’s incredibly violent.

Harbour’s one-liners and well-choreographed action scenes make the movie as entertaining as it is. Whether that’s the way Santa uses ornaments to gouge people or uses a giant candy cane to knock people out, the film almost feels like an R-rated “Home Alone.” While Santa’s gruff demeanor is campy, Harbour is able to blend slapstick humor with bloody murder.

The eccentric Lightstone family also gets some laughs due to holiday family dysfunctionalities. Gertrude Lightstone takes the throne as the funniest Lightstone. Beverly D’Angelo‘s performance displays the ironies of being rich while poking fun at the greediness and shallowness the family has to overcome.

Why it works

Violent Night doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and that’s why it works. Despite being as graphic as it is, it’s also surprisingly light-hearted. While its plot is definitely all over the place, the movie’s memorable moments make it stand out. The film also includes a hilarious opening scene where Harbour is mistaken for a mall Santa.

This movie also gives more value to the holiday film genre for going in a gory direction. A lot of movie-goers are into action-bent films like “John Wick”so this movie gives audiences the best of both worlds. Harbour’s portrayal of Santa is innocent yet hellbent which makes for a reindeer joyride of a time.

Its references to other Christmas films are also a highlight. Trudy resembles a Kevin McCallister persona because of how resourceful she is. She’s able to use traps and gadgets like bowling balls and nails to protect her family.

The film’s direction never allows the film to be a cynical take on Christmas.  It’s able to be violent, but also promotes positive messages about giving back and spreading Christmas joy.


“Violent Night” is one gory sleigh bell ride, but it’s also incredibly entertaining. I recommend watching it in theaters with your family this holiday season.