Violent Night parents guide

Violent Night Parent Guide

It's violent and gruesome but manages a bit of wit in the storytelling. Family-friendly it isn't but it is occasionally darkly funny.

Overall D+

Theaters: A wealthy family is taken hostage by a group of thieves on Christmas Eve and there's only one person who can save them: Santa Claus.

Release date December 2, 2022

Violence D
Sexual Content B
Profanity D
Substance Use C-

Why is Violent Night rated R? The MPAA rated Violent Night R for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.

Run Time: 101 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The Lightstone family aren’t having an “average” Christmas. The family matriarch, cutthroat businesswoman Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo), is throwing her usual extravagant party, complete with catering staff. Her son Jason (Alex Hassell) has brought his wife Linda (Alexis Louder) – despite the marital troubles exacerbated by Gertrude - and their daughter, Trudy (Leah Brady). Then, of course, there’s Jason’s thoroughly unpleasant sister Alva (Edi Patterson) and her husband du jour, aspiring actor Morgan Steele (Cam Gigandet), plus Alva’s wannabe influencer son, Bert (Alexander Elliot).

Given this motley crew, holiday spirit is in short supply – outside of the wet bar, that is – but the party deteriorates rapidly. A clever criminal going by the name of Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo) has enlisted a gang of ruthless killers to rob the Lightstone estate over the holidays. He didn’t count on one thing: Santa (David Harbour). And Santa’s already got a lot more on his plate than cookies and candy this year. Apart from the armed murderers waiting along his route, he’s beginning to wonder if this jolly old elf stuff is really for him after all. It’s not as if he was always Santa Claus– and he wasn’t particularly jolly before he donned the red suit and hat.

This is, potentially, my new favorite Christmas movie. I’m so tired of seeing spoiled kids whine their merry way through the season, harassing their family and driving everyone crazy until Saint Nick shows up to save the day with a healthy heaping of consumerism. Violent Night is definitely not that. This time, the naughty boys and girls get a grisly comeuppance, and it’s really filled my Grinch-y little heart with some much-needed holiday spirit – although probably not the kind most people are looking for.

Admittedly, this isn’t your regular Santa. He isn’t long on holiday spirit either – unless it comes from a bottle. He seems to spend most of his time mooching liquor from people’s houses and vomiting on their roofs. (It’s not model behaviour, but to be honest, if you spent 1100 years doing the same job, it’d wear you down too.) Thankfully, he gets a lovely diversion: The opportunity to save one truly good child by committing a whole bunch of graphic murders. This is apparently acceptable since a) the killings are all done in self-defense and b) the victims are already on the naughty list. So, when Santa, for example, stabs one of the bad guys in the eye with a tree topper and plugs it in, causing our would-be-burglar’s head to catch fire, that’s apparently OK. I’m also a big fan of Trudy’s little Home Alone-style adventures, since she gets a fine opportunity to set up some booby traps that would make both Kevin McAllister and the Viet Cong jealous. It just gets me in the mood to wrap some gifts and sit by the tree. (Your mileage might differ here and I won’t be surprised if nausea or nightmares are the way you roll.)

As you might have guessed, this is hardly family holiday fare. It’s more Die Hard than Home Alone, and there are dozens of graphic shootings, stabbings, bludgeonings, and a few complete dismemberments to go with a steady stream of profanity and copious consumption of alcohol. This isn’t for kids, but for the Grinch in your life, you could try Violent Night. I even caught myself whistling Christmas carols on my way out of the theatre, if you can believe it. I’m not sure I can, honestly, and I was there.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola. Starring David Harbour, Beverly D'Angelo, John Leguizamo. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release December 2, 2022. Updated

Violent Night
Rating & Content Info

Why is Violent Night rated R? Violent Night is rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.

Violence: Individuals are shot, stabbed, blown up, beaten to death, dismembered, decapitated, and killed in gruesome and painful ways.
Sexual Content: There is a brief non-graphic reference to a teenager committing a non-specified act of sexual harassment at school.
Profanity: There are 80 sexual expletives, 40 scatological terms, and regular use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking frequently and heavily.

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Violent Night Parents' Guide

There is a market for violent Christmas movies or horror films with a Christmas theme. Why do you think people watch them? What kind of Christmas movies do you prefer? Why?

Do you think Santa’s violence in this movie is justified? What kind of messages do you think this movie gives viewers?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Fans of a more twisted take on the festive season can try Die Hard, Black Christmas, Fatman, Silent Night, or even The Shining, which I personally consider a Christmas film (but this is debatable). Younger audiences should try The Nightmare Before Christmas.