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Stranger Things’ favourite David ‘Hopper’ Harbour headlines this brutally-bloody festive actioner – which hits more than it misses.

Yes, it may connect with the all the subtlety of the sledgehammer that Santa Claus (Harbour) wields to splatter his enemies all over town – but it does so in a gratifying way.

With tongue firmly embedded-in-cheek too.

Harbour’s Saint Nic – the real one complete with magic and flying reindeer – is disillusioned with the state of the world, particularly ungrateful children who only want money and video games.

Due to this he continues to spread joy on Christmas Eve, even though his naughty list continues to increase – which leaves him turning to booze to numb his pain.

But when he stumbles across the posh stately Connecticut mansion of rich entrepreneur Gertrude Lightstone (played by National Lampoon’s Vacation alum Beverly D’Angelo) – who has her son Jason (Alex Hassell), his ex-wife Linda (Alexis), their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), along with her daughter Alva (Edi Patterson), son Bert (Alexander Elliot), and her partner Morgan (Cam Gigandet) around for dinner – the famous night turns ‘south’ very quickly for Santa.

They are held hostage by John Leguizamo’s Mr Scrooge and festively-named gun-toting mercenaries – looking to steal over $300million from the family vault – and when Santa realises that Trudy is on the nice list he literally goes ‘medieval’.

That’s because he was once legendary Viking warrior Nikamund the Red – as the unfolding event brings clarity back to the disgruntled Santa.

And through some intermittently manic and clunky set-pieces – part Die Hard, part Home Alone – it just about comes together to provide enough gore-filled entertainment with a few stand-out comedic death highlights to boot, for those seeking darker-edged festive fare.

It doesn’t really take the concept as far as it could have done – and Harbour (despite still impressing) doesn’t quite do for brutal violence what Billy Bob Thornton’s Father Christmas-iteration did for crude comedy a couple of decades ago – but it still proves to be a ho-ho lot of fun.

And anyone tackling a ‘hard’ rated Christmas movie – which is still an incredibly rare sub-genre – will always be high on my wish list.

ESP Magazine Rating: 3/5

Gavin Miller

Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now

Cast: David Harbour, Alex Hassell, John Leguizamo, Alexis Louder, Beverly D’angelo, Leah Brady, Edi Patterson, Alexander Elliot, Brendan Fletcher, Andre Eriksen, Mitra Suri, Mike Dopud & Cam Gigandet

Running Time: 1 Hr 52 Mins

Director: Tommy Wirkola

Go to for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux

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