Review: ‘Violent Night’ is a Violent Delight (Spoiler Free)

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Violent Night is a pure violent delight. It’s freaking fun and an instant Christmas classic. It’s not remotely family-friendly and is so incredibly bloody, but also unexpectedly heartwarming which honestly surprised me. It’ll make you think twice about candy canes, and David Harbour sleighs as Santa. Violent Night is wildly entertaining and definitely worth watching in theaters with a crowd.

Violent Night was written by Pat Casey & Josh Miller. Tommy Wirkola directed the film, and I’m sure Hollywood will see even more of him after the delight of Violent Night. This bloody Christmas film also stars John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Edi Patterson, and Beverly D’Angelo.

[Read on for our spoiler-free review.]

The cast of Violent Night is top notch

David Harbour truly shines as Santa Claus. He seamlessly slips into the role of a cranky Saint Nick with a past, and makes it look effortless. It’s a testament to his skill as an actor. We don’t see Jim Hopper or Alexei, but instead, a Santa who has had enough and is disgusted with the world’s consumerism. It’s a familiar trope of Christmas movies, but Violent Night elevates it and turns it into something fresh.

John Leguizamo plays a character called Mr. Scrooge, with skills and energy rivaling that of Harbour in this film. He brings the right kind of charisma as Santa’s foil. Overall, the entire cast seems like they’re having fun, which makes the movie so much more of a romp.

Why you need to watch this movie in the theater

There are some movies you can catch at home and still enjoy. However, Violent Night is meant to be seen in theaters with a giant crowd.

Violent Night Santa
David Harbour as Santa. Violent Night (Universal).

I watched the movie at New York City Comic Con in a room with hundreds of my “closest” friends. I was going to skip it – but I’m so glad I didn’t. Their reactions – joy, laughter, and horror made it so much more fun.

The studio set the tone and gave everyone in the audience Santa hats splattered with bloodspots featuring the movie’s logo. In that NYCC room, we all fed off of each other’s energy while watching. I’ve been to movies where the audience has been engaged or responsive – thinking of the most recent Spider-Man movie, for example – but this was a step above that. And it was fantastic.

Instantly quotable writing

There are lines from movies and tv shows that instantly make it into the common language of pop culture. Violent Night has more than a few of those – it’s instantly quotable. And that helps the film’s staying power, I expect people to continue talking about this film for many Christmas to come.

The story is also really well thought out. It’s not just a movie that’s a vehicle for cool fights (even though it has plenty of them), but every character has an arc! And there are unexpected layers to the story that are revealed as we progress into the main plot.

Violent Night has amazing fight sequences 

This movie has a lot of fights and a lot of deaths. At one point early on, I tried to keep a body count but quickly lost track. I’m not even sure if anyone was offed in the same way throughout the film – I’d have to go back and watch it again.

The fights are incredibly well done, and the choreography of the action sequences is a work of art. If you appreciate moviemaking and the dance that is well thought-out stuntwork, Violent Night should be on your must-watch list. And I can only imagine the gallons of corn syrup that were used to make the blood for the film!

This Christmas movie might be on Santa’s naughty list…

Obviously, Violent Night is not a kid’s movie and definitely not a family movie. You’re probably not going to watch it with your relatives in between fighting over holiday leftovers. Violent Night isn’t something you’re going to see replayed with commercials and slight edits on cable TV during the holiday season.

This isn’t Miracle on 34th Street with an edge, but Violent Night is sure to be a Christmas classic in its own right. It’s a very gory movie and the violence is essential to the story. 

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(L-R) David Harbour and John Leguizamo on the set of Violent Night. (Universal).

But going into the movie – you know that. The title, the marketing, and the trailers are a promise to the audience that the holiday action movie will be grisly. It’s been described as Home Alone meets Die Hard, but Violent Night is more than that. It delivers on the gory Christmas promise 100%.  

The ending is heartwarming – precisely what you’d expect from a Christmas tale. You’re left with a sense that all is right in the world within the movie and that justice has been done. Violent Night achieves a perfect blending of genres and totally exceeds expectations. If you don’t like violence, this movie is still totally fun, but maybe not for you. 

Violent Night comes out in theaters on December 2, 2022. Are you excited about Violent Night? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts with us on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus or in our Discord Community. And you can contact me directly via e-mail at Ayla@theCosmicCircus.com or on Twitter @TulinWrites.

If you’re looking for much more family-friendly Christmas entertainment, check out our review on The Santa Clauses, which sees the return of Tim Allen as Santa! 

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