Nearly everyone is a member of the Naughty List in Tommy Wirkola’s Violent Night and that includes Santa Claus (David Harbour) for a stretch. We meet a more tipsy than jolly St. Nick on Christmas Eve at an English pub. He’s lamenting kids these days on a short break from chimney diving.
By the time he makes it over to Connecticut, he stumbles into a home invasion of the über rich Lightstone family. That includes matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo), wine swigging daughter Alva (Edi Patterson) and her wannabe action star beau (Cam Gigandet) and constantly v-logging son (Alexander Elliot). The Christmas vacation turned hostage situation is joined by “#1 son” Jason (Alex Hassell), estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder), and adorable daughter Trudy (Leah Brady). Named after her ruthless grandmother, she doesn’t yet share the traits of her haughty elders.
While she believes in Santa, Trudy cannot imagine the vicious ex-warrior that he turns out to be until they team up. The bad guys are led by John Leguizamo. He goes by Mr. Scrooge and all his henchmen are given seasonal aliases like Frosty and Candy Cane. Krampus (Brendan Fletcher) is the most sadistic and the funniest. They’re searching for a massive gift: $300 million said to be on premise. When Santa is stranded by his reindeer, he becomes the evening’s John McClane. He says ho-ho-ho, there are machine guns, and we have plenty of makeshift weapons that inflict maximum pain. Trudy is kind of a mini Al Powell to keep the Die Hard references up. She communicates with our very real icon via walkie talkie in what no doubt is a Christmas movie stuffed with carnage.
Violent Night shouldn’t end up on any best of or worst of lists. Harbour lends demented spirit to Mr. Kringle, but the script dampens the overall experience. There’s a brutally humorous twist on Home Alone style pranks in one sequence. A lot of the mayhem unfortunately has a repetitive feel. A tightened runtime of 90 minutes would be a bonus. It clocks in at 112 minutes. You will believe this could’ve been superior though this anus kicking Santa occasionally delivers.
**1/2 (out of four)