Watch: Violent Night director Tommy Wirkola on judging Christmas brutality
The film stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, who accesses his past as a fearless warrior in order to defend a family held hostage on Christmas Eve by mercenaries seeking to steal millions of dollars.
"When they sent it to me, they said it was like Die Hard with Santa Claus. That sounds cool, but it could go both ways," Wirkola told Yahoo UK.
The director behind Dead Snow and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is no stranger to crunching on-screen violence, but knew he had to be careful given the Christmas setting.
He said: "When I read the script, I really loved how it felt like a Christmas movie and how it had a big heart. I felt like if I could get that right, we could go as crazy as we want on the rest.
"It is certainly a daunting thing. Hopefully it can join a good company of movies that you can watch every year. When the kids have gone to bed, you can put this on."
Wirkola said the 'fantastical world' in which the story takes place provided 'more freedom' to see how far the violence could go.
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He added: "An example is the scene in a barn where Santa takes on 25 mercenaries with a sledgehammer.
"That scene was supposed to be, firstly, with no score, just sound effects of the hammer and him going in and out of the shadows like Batman taking on these guys and doing horrific things with his hammer.
"But when we cut it together, we realised 'you know what, this is actually too much, it's too violent'. So we put in Bryan Adams' Christmas Time on it, which is a huge Christmas song where I grew up.
"It just made that scene funny and charming. Yes violent, but with a sense of fun underneath it. It's always worth finding that right balance."
Wirkola suggested that he enjoyed playing in this world so much that there could be a return to Violent Night if Harbour is up for a Christmas return.
"The script was written as one thing and that was it. But as we got into it and doing it and exploring it, we realised that we don't see Santa's workshop, we don't see the elves, we don't see Mrs Claus.
"There's a lot of places one can go and explore. Knock on wood, let's see what happens with this one."
There will need to be some invention in play to keep things fresh though, given Wirkola's story appears to use every festive pun and imaginative Christmas violence trick in the book.
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"I feel like we used every single Christmas decoration and ornament in this one. But I'm sure there's more stuff to be explored," the filmmaker said.
Violent Night is in UK cinemas from 2 December.
Watch: Trailer for Violent Night