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Violent Night

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! Come on, you beautiful bastards!”

I thought Violent Night would be about a mall Santa who goes axe crazy. It’s not. David Harbour is playing the real Santa Claus, magic powers and all, in a movie that mixes Miracle on 34th Street with the entire Death Wish series, and the result is surprisingly entertaining.

Does Santa Claus even fit into our lives anymore? The Santa we meet is burned out and ready to quit. Why? Everyone wants cash. Everyone wants gift cards. Mister Claus has nothing to offer the world anymore, and he’s turning Christmas Eve into a depressing, drunk bender while he throws presents under Christmas trees and stops at every bar along the way, well aware he’s a relic without a place in the modern world.

Until he delivers presents to a mansion where a hostage situation is unfolding.

Turns out, ol’ Saint Nick was once a Viking warrior who slaughtered men on the battlefield with his mighty hammer. After a visit to the tool shed, Kris Kringle is ready to spill some blood.

He’s aided by a little girl who is obsessed with Santa Claus and, conveniently, Home Alone. She helps Santa with traps that would make Kevin McAllister proud, but there’s a twist.

Ever notice that the Home Alone traps go off like dorky cartoon gags, but in real life could really mutilate someone? This movie doesn’t pull any punches. The little sidekick’s traps are hysterically gruesome. It was too gory for some of the viewers in my theater, but these scenes provide a hilarious counterpoint to the traditional Santa Claus imagery we see everywhere in the film. That, and the fact that Santa cleverly uses his charming magic powers to eviscerate his enemies.

The score is equally hilarious with its light motifs of classic Christmas melodies that play subtly while Santa is ripping someone’s head off or cramming them through a chimney.

Violent Night is an odd film. Not your usual slasher garbage, but not a serious movie, either. It reinforces the meaning of Christmas just as often (and as genuinely) as a Hallmark movie, but for every warm and fuzzy moment you'll also see someone get a nail stuck through their face.

Final Analysis: Kudos for a unique take on Christmas. Four out of five reindeer droppings.

Adam D. Jones is a writer and musician who will never be too old or too cool to celebrate Christmas.


  1. Adam, thanks so much for this review. You made me laugh out loud twice and I'm seriously considering watching it. :)

  2. Watched this begore Christmas and it’s probsbly gonna be one of we’ll watch next Christmas as well. It’s seriously good fun if you can stomach a bit of gore :D

  3. "Turns out, ol’ Saint Nick was once a Viking warrior who slaughtered men on the battlefield with his mighty hammer."

    What a weird twist on the real history, which is (as rumor has it) that Santa was just a regular guy who punched someone at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E.

  4. Oh, sorry. That was me with the fun fact about ancient Santa.

  5. We actually saw it in the theater on Christmas Day! Hilarious.

  6. For some reason, a bunch of my colleagues watched this recently, even though it's a year old. So I watched it, too.

    It is not very good, but also not at all bad. I liked many parts of it.

  7. I just saw it. While I thought David Harbour was absolutely awesome as Santa Claus and I totally got the joke and what they were trying to do here, it was just too gruesome for me. I'm not sorry I watched it, but I won't watch it again.


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