A Christmas film with a difference

Times Film Reviewer Matthew Dann visits the Odeon in Tunbridge Wells to see a new Christmas film with a horror twist….


Violent Night is a film that does exactly what it says on the tin, but sadly, not much more. Nonetheless, it is a worthy escape.

A wealthy family gather on Christmas Eve at their luxury family home. Mercenaries take them hostage, but what they don’t count on is a surprise combatant.

Enter Santa Claus, played by the excellent David Harbour. He is great as a grumpy, ageing, foul-mouthed and tough Chris Cringle.

He goes up against an annoying selection of criminals, who seem to spend most of the movie making terrible Christmas puns.

The ringleader of the group, played by the fantastic John Leguizamo, plays his role very well, it has to be said.

He is an angry, unhinged, trigger-happy mercenary and he’s gunning for Santa.

The film itself, runs at a decent enough pace. It does not feel rushed, nor does it feel slow. It is not for the faint-hearted, as there is gore aplenty.

The majority of the other characters are unfortunately forgettable. In a movie such as this though, it is hardly surprising.lifestyle top

Some of the acting is very questionable. It seems that certain characters, were added to the movie to simply make up the numbers.

But the film is shot well, with lots of Christmas decorations, lights and candy canes for a festive flavour. The brightness of the decorations, works well against the gloom and violence throughout.

The fight sequences blend well, they are frequent, but not overpowering. One scene of particular note, is when Santa is cornered in wood shed.

There is room for the story to play out and there are a couple of twists and turns. There are even flashes back to the Viking era. For me, this felt like an unnecessary section of the film, but generally, the film’s plot is pretty much linear.

For those seeking something different, this is the Christmas film for you. Take away the Christmas cheer, music and yule-tide joy and replace it with a hard-as-nails Santa. Despite the foul language and broken bones, it’s a film that still manages to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

There is arguably enough in the film to try and make a sequel work. Whether or not that will happen and whether or not your average cinemagoer would be willing to watch it is still open for debate.


Violent Night (Certificate 15) is on at the Odeon Cinema, Knights Park, Tunbridge Wells – three showings a day: 15:30, 18:10, 20:40

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