Violent Night review – a nutcracking Christmas horror-comedy

Anyone hauling themselves out of the bloated, bilious and self-pitying tail-end of a particularly gruelling family Christmas might appreciate how a string of fairy lights could be repurposed as a garrotting wire, or that a set of nutcrackers might do some serious damage. But it’s a testament to the commitment to festive carnage in the comedy horror Violent Night that something as innocuous as a candy cane is weaponised (along with more obviously dangerous seasonal trappings such as ornamental icicles and an extremely pointy nativity star).

The latest film from Norwegian pulp specialist Tommy Wirkola (perhaps best known for the Nazi zombie picture Dead Snow) is an exuberantly violent home invasion heist thriller. The family members of billionaire matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo) are staring down the barrel of a permanently silent night, courtesy of Christmas-hating bad guy “Scrooge” (John Leguizamo). Their only hope for survival is Santa Claus (Stranger Things’s David Harbour), boozy and disillusioned after centuries on the job, who happens to park his sleigh on Gertrude’s roof. Harbour’s jaded charisma is the film’s secret weapon (that and a massive hammer).