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Strange, Dark And Thrilling Holiday Movies

November 17th, 2023Strange, Dark And Thrilling Holiday Movies

Over the years, some of the best Christmas movies have been those that highlight the best attributes of the season: family’s coming together, people finding the true meaning of the holidays, and Santa Claus bringing gifts to all the good boys and girls in a single night. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t great examples of strange, dark, and thrilling holiday movies. In fact, there’s quite a list of edgier, bloodier, and outrageous violent titles.

From twisted horror flicks like KRAMPUS to legendary action films like DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON to to John Woo’s SILENT NIGHT, there are plenty of strange, dark, and thrilling holiday movies that can provide hours of alternative programming this Christmas.

Silent Night (2023)

John Woo’s SILENT NIGHT, his first American movie in 20 years, isn’t your standard Christmastime affair with a family celebrating the big holiday while drinking eggnog and looking back on old memories. The upcoming action thriller instead follows Joel Kinnaman’s silent protagonist as he prepares to get revenge on those responsible for the shooting death of his son. Fueled by vengeance, the grieving father will stop at nothing until every name has been checked off his list.

SILENT NIGHT opens December 1

Violent Night

Tommy Wirkola’s VIOLENT NIGHT shows what happens when Santa Claus (David Harbour) and a band of mercenaries show up at the same place at the same time. This shockingly violent and surprisingly heartfelt Christmas action movie has thrills, chills, bells, and guys that yell as they’re being dispensed by Old Saint Nick. There are some dark moments, and there are some strange situations, but this outrageously funny holiday spectacle is a wonderful holiday treat for those old enough to handle 107 minutes of gratuitous violence.

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Silent Night (2021)

Camille Griffin’s 2021 black comedy, SILENT NIGHT, which shouldn’t be confused with John Woo’s upcoming movie of the same name, offers a unique spin to the holiday premise. The night before a mysterious apocalyptic event, a group of friends – played by Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Annabelle Wallis, and others – get together for one final holiday party. What follows is shocking, dark, and oddly hilarious, but we’ll stop there to avoid giving too much away.


After losing the holiday spirit because of his family’s fighting and bickering, as well as the state of modern society, Max Engel (Emjay Anthony) tears up his letter to Santa and decries his love for Christmas. That night, instead of Old Saint Nick coming down the chimney, the young boy discovers that a mythical beast from European folklore has come to punish him and his family. Michael Dougherty’s KRAMPUS is a lean, mean, and truly terrifying Christmastime horror movie that doesn’t hold back with its bleakness.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Holiday cheer, film noir tropes, and dynamic performances by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan highlight KISS KISS BANG BANG, Shane Black’s directorial debut. As is the case with many of his other films, this 2005 crime comedy is set over Christmas and follows on-the-run criminal, Harry Lockhart (Downey) as he stumbles into an audition while evading arrest. This biting, and festive, flick is a great option for your holiday viewing.

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Batman Returns

Tim Burton is another filmmaker with a habit of making movies set during the holidays, with EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS quickly coming to mind. But perhaps his darkest and strangest is his 1992 superhero movie, BATMAN RETURNS, which features what could very well be the most awesome action sequence involving a massive Christmas present. Watching Batman (Michael Keaton) battle the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in a wintry Gotham never gets old.

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Die Hard

The whole “Is DIE HARD actually a Christmas movie” debate is one that has been going on pretty much ever since the 1988 action movie first opened on the big screen. No matter your opinion on the situation, there’s no denying that it’s just not Christmas until Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) falls from Nakatomi Plaza. There’s so much to love about John McTiernan’s thriller, be it John McClane (Bruce Willis) taking down a band of terrorists while throwing out Christmas phrases, the holiday soundtrack, or the holiday party that looked like a good time before those uninvited guests arrived.

Lethal Weapon

Writing movies set during the holiday season has long been one of Shane Black’s trademarks, and one of the best examples of this is 1987’s LETHAL WEAPON. Directed by Richard Donner, this beloved buddy cop adventure starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is not only a classic Christmas movie, it’s also one of the all-time great action flicks. From Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) getting to know each other to them taking down a drug conspiracy, there’s so much to love here.

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What would the holidays be without an army of Gremlins taking over the sleepy town of Kingston Falls on Christmas where they viciously attack residents, drink all the booze, and generally have a good time? Well, don’t let that happen and watch Joe Dante’s 1984 horror comedy, GREMLINS, and count down the minutes until you see all of the shenanigans these critters get up to when let loose on a small down during the holidays.

Sure, some of these holidays may not be conventional, but each captures the fun and chaos of the Christmas season. And don’t forget to check out John Woo’s SILENT NIGHT when it opens on the big screen this December.

 SILENT NIGHT opens December 1

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