Violent Night’s villain, Mr. Scrooge, defies the internal logic of the movie’s story, resulting in a character who can’t exist in his own movie.
Note: The following article contains spoilers for Violent Night (2022)
While Violent Night may live up to the promise of its title, the David Harbour action comedy doesn’t manage to make sense of its twisted plot. Violent Night sees Stranger Things star David Harbour play a drunken, misanthropic spin on Santa Claus, who is forced to unleash his action-hero potential when he accidentally disrupts a group of mercenaries taking a dysfunctional super-rich family hostage. A bloody, R-rated thriller, Violent Night lives up to its name as Harbour’s muscular Santa beats and brutalizes his way through the villainous gang.
However, there is a major problem with Violent Night’s plot. While Violent Night explains Santa’s origins to justify his fighting abilities, the movie fails to explain how the villain came into existence. John Leguizamo’s cartoonish-ly evil Mr. Scrooge refers to himself with this on-the-nose moniker because he hates Christmas, and viewers eventually learn that this anger stems from his father being laid off during his childhood which left his family without the money to celebrate Christmas. However, Santa Claus is real in the world of Violent Night, and the movie never explains why he would have let Mr. Scrooge go through that Christmas without receiving gifts.
Violent Night’s Santa Rules Don’t Work
Santa Claus is given an elaborate backstory in Violent Night, but the movie fails to make sense of its premise. Mr. Scrooge and his henchmen are on Santa’s much-vaunted Naughty List, which theoretically makes it alright for Harbour’s Violent Night antihero to dispatch them bloodily. However, Mr. Scrooge only assembled this team because he became a career criminal. He became a career criminal because, as an eleven-year-old, he was unfairly blamed for the death of an old man that occurred while the young Mr. Scrooge was robbing gifts for his family. So, why would Mr. Scrooge end up on the Naughty List when Santa Claus is the one who failed to help him?
Since Santa Clause is real in the world of Violent Night, why would Mr. Scrooge’s family have been worried about not having sufficient money to fund Christmas for their children when they don’t need to buy them gifts? The only plausible answer to this comes from Violent Night’s inconsistent “Christmas magic,” which makes Santa more powerful when people believe and less powerful when they don’t. Violent Night’s ending allows the wealthy Lightstone family to revive an apparently-dead Santa Claus through the power of belief. Thus, the only canon justification would be that eleven-year-old Mr. Scrooge didn’t believe in Santa hard enough.
Why Violent Night’s Villain Derails Its Story
If Mr. Scrooge became a murderous criminal who was eventually brutally killed by Santa Claus because he failed to believe in Christmas as a small child, this begs whether Violent Night’s Santa deserved to survive the movie. He seemingly has no compassion for children whose families can’t afford Christmas gifts but will risk his life to save a family of millionaires from potentially losing some of their $300 million fortunes. His naughty list includes Mr. Scrooge and his henchmen, but doesn’t his nice list, include the villain’s eleven-year-old? Ultimately, Violent Night’s Santa adds up if viewers assume that the poor can’t afford Santa’s “Christmas magic.”
Next: Violent Night Cast & Character Guide