“No, Mr. Santa, I expect you to be Violent tonight.” (CREDIT: Allen Fraser/Universal Pictures)

Starring: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Leah Brady, Beverly D’Angelo, Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: R for The Bloodiest Xmas Ever

Release Date: December 2, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: So many (and I mean, SO MANY) Christmas films proclaim that we just have to BELIEVE that Santa is real, and if we believe hard enough, he’ll come through for us. According to Violent Night, that belief means that the big guy will save you from a gang of merciless thieves who have their hearts set on stealing your family’s fortune, even though he’s a full-on drunken mess. So it makes sense that he’s played in this go-round by David Harbour, a burly bear of a man who’s still lovable even when he’s barfing over the side of his sleigh. And Violent Night pulls off a similar trick by delivering plenty of treacly holiday sweetness alongside its profoundly massive levels of gore and dismemberment.

What Made an Impression?: The commercials for Violent Night told me that it would be “Die Hard meets Home Alone.” To which I responded: “Die Hard and Home Alone are already pretty similar.” Well, it turns out that description is exactly 100% accurate, because this movie does indeed answer the question “What if John McClane were Kris Kringle and he teamed up with Kevin McAllister as a young girl in a sickeningly wealthy family?”

So it was especially fortuitous that I happened to watch some of Home Alone 2 a few days earlier, and with adult eyes, it helped clarify that every blow to the head surely resulted in (at least) a concussion for the Wet Bandits. Violent Night continues that thought by taking the bloodshed and injuries wrought by rusty nails and bowling balls to their logical conclusions, and also adding plenty of gunfire to the mix. If you’re in the mood for something this deadly, you’ll probably laugh a fair amount, though you might get exhausted a bit by all the mayhem.

Director Tommy Wirkola made his name with the 2009 Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow, so the unrelenting demented mayhem was very much to be expected in Violent Night. Naturally enough then, the most fun is had by those who are most allowed to revel in the bloodbath, particularly Harbour, whose Santa originated as a Viking warrior; John Leguizamo as Mr. Scrooge, the leader of the burglars; and Leah Brady as Trudy the troublemaker (who’s still very much on the nice list). The soapy family drama dynamics aren’t quite as fulfilling, though they are appropriately foul-mouthed, with Beverly D’Angelo setting the right non-motherly tone as the family matriarch. But it’s a messy world that we live in right now, and this may just be the Santa we need to deliver us holiday cheer in 2022.

Violent Night is Recommended If You Like: Milk and cookies chased with top shelf liquor

Grade: 3 out of 5 Candy Canes