‘Violent Night’ uses Connecticut setting to characterize greed and wealth

David Harbour of "Stranger Things" stars as a fed up Santa Claus alongside John Leguizamo and Beverly D’Angelo in the John Wick-esque action film.

Photo of Daniel Figueroa IV
David Harbour, left, and John Leguizamo in "Violent Night."

David Harbour, left, and John Leguizamo in "Violent Night."

Allen Fraser / Universal Pictures

Did you remember to ask Santa Claus for a Molotov cocktail this year?

How else, then, is he supposed to fend off a band of mercenaries robbing a wealthy family as he’s stranded whilst delivering gifts? 

In director Tommy Wirkola’s “Violent Night,” a not-so jolly Saint Nick, played by "Stranger Things" actor David Harbour, hopes for one such weapon as he reaches into a magical bag of gifts, pulling out a stream of video games and gift cards. None of which would do much good against the bullets splintering beams and blasting through concrete around him.

A major theme of the film is greed. It’s set in Greenwich  — yes, this Greenwich. The film, however, was shot in Canada.

Harbour’s Santa is a far cry from the soft and genial Kris Kringle of Richard Attenborough in “Miracle on 34th Street.” 

Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough, L) fulfills the Christmas wishes of Susan Walker (Mara Wilson) in 'Miracle on 35th Street.'

Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough, L) fulfills the Christmas wishes of Susan Walker (Mara Wilson) in 'Miracle on 35th Street.'

Michael P. Weinstein/FOX

The film opens with Santa Claus getting sloshed at a pub in Bristol (not here, the other one) while complaining that selfishness, greed and envy have ruined the Christmas holiday. Soon, he’s lifting off in a reindeer-led sleigh, while vomiting over the side onto an English rooftop. 

“Violent Night” is produced by 87North, a stunt-heavy studio from the minds and bodies behind the violence of the “John Wick" series. There’s enough death, gore and foul language to make you feel like you’ll land on the naughty list just by watching. That being said, the filmmakers know the audience is there for one reason — to watch Santa Claus bash bad guys.

Santa winds up in the home of Gertrude Lighthouse, played by Beverly D’Angelo. She’s a neglectful mother with a giant fortune she had to wrest from her family. She demands loyalty and respect. Her children compete against each other for her attention and a spot in her will. 

Lighthouse is cold and cruel to her family and the senator she’s aggressively belittling on the phone as we meet her character. 

The Lighthouse family lives in a mansion on a compound off of a private road. The family’s wealth is a character onto itself. The filmmakers choose to embody that by placing the kingmaking Lighthouse family’s compound in Greenwich — consistently ranked among the wealthiest cities in the country rich. The average home value pushes $2 million. 

The high price tag of Greenwich has become low-hanging fruit for pop culture. It’s often mocked and lampooned. Even its own residents, like comedian Hasan Minhaj, have called the city out. Minhaj took a few shots at Greenwich in his new Netflix special “The King’s Jester.”

“Violent Night” is rated R. Talks are already in the works for a sequel and Harbour joked in an interview with “Digital Spy” that he’d like a film universe of “daddies as imaginary creatures” with Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal as the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.

“Violent Night” is in theaters now.