Violent Night Review

Violent Night
Violent Night
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This is a rowdy skull crusher that comes with the month before Christmas; it wears fierce action might. By making use of generic traits, Tommy Wirkola’s direction pays homage to Die Hard and Home Alone with love, in anticipation of a barbarian Santa – just kidding, no rhymes here! I have no reason for deviating from my excitement at the combination of Hallmark and gore-laden fight sequences by way of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Dead Snows filmmaker. Violent night has sold its gingerbread-scented hostage scenario with winter wonderland tongue-in-cheekiness, then old Saint Nick goes warrior-berserk with a sledgehammer.

David Harbour seems to be enjoying himself as Santa Claus, who is now having an existential crisis because people have been increasingly naughty. It ends up being another year circling around the earth and gifting spoilt kids electronics that will lose their taste in the coming weeks – Santa’s yuletide spirit is waning. Where to next? The Lightstone residential compound where matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo) once again hosts her son Jason (Alex Hassell), daughter Alva (Edi Patterson), accompanying family, and all the hired catering help. Homemade cookies are cracked into by Santa while he vibrates in luxury massage chair living the good life till gun shots begin sounding somewhere faraway. John Leguizamo himself enters as Mr Scrooge—his favorite moniker—searching for Gertrude’s riches hidden in some vault jabbing his pistol menacingly even at Jason’s little daughter Trudy (Leah Brady)—Santa would not like this.

By introducing such characters as dysfunctional elites who have discarded festivity from their Christmas time, Violent Night puts coal dust on your regular syndicated drama during this season. Alva is catty alcoholic; Morgan (Cam Gigandet), her husband, is a D-list action star wannabe in pursuit of producers and Gertrude’s letter of introduction consists in metaphorically roasting the senator’s chestnuts without compunction. Violent Night follows Michael Dougherty’s Krampus approach to teaching moral lessons set during holidays but with more perils; however, Violent Night replaces gruesome creatures with disfigured gophers lurking near Santa. No puking jack-in-the-box monsters, only swirling snowplow blades, icicle spikes, and sharpened ice skates as Santa’s makeshift arsenal.

By pointing out Rudy’s blinking red schnozz like Rudolph does, Pat Casey and Josh Miller aggressively nose their screenplay. It is not enough for scenes to cheekily recreate Home Alone—they should say so aloud. Violent Night capitalizes on turning remarkable Christmas carol lines into battle-hardened Santa catchphrases or defiling Trudy’s cherubic innocence. At first sight it can be read as corny script due to slow-beats that have to pick up pace before it starts moving in a full swing motion then heads start rolling off and Wirkola brings us his first primetime seasons beatings.

Harbour’s conversion into a tattooed saintly figure with long grey hair and beard makes him look like a performer enjoying every moment of his time in front of the cameras. Santa is not invincible, nor are the well-choreographed fight scenes against obviously superior opponents. Harbour stands there, dressed in red leather so thick that one might mistake it for Redwood, using everything from electrified tree tops to glittering decorations to give him an upper hand over Scrooge’s paid-for psychopaths for Christmas (each having cute seasonal codenames such as Frosty and Jingle). Such John McClaneisms as lying beside dead bodies when he does not feel much like sleeping or chuckling heartily as soldiers explode due to grenades he stuffed into their “stockings” makes it more fun. While Beverly D’Angelo, Cam Gigandet and others play frozen stereotypes, Harbour reimagines Santa Claus as a muscular action hero with only twinkly nose magic, a never-ending sack of toys and a legible scroll labelled with all the enemy names under “naughty.” Reset is just Harbour translating saccharine holiday imagery into gritty mercenary punishment.

Violent Night would’ve been one rung higher with a zippier opening. There’s less to be excited about once Harbour leaves camera view. However, Leguizamo’s humbug-sounding bulletstorm personality comes naturally; this cannot be said for all his minor villains who have no presence at all. Violent Night’s secret weapon becomes clear: Harbour who Wirkola has cast in another game-changing combat scene staged to some other radio-friendly Christmas hit that raises the stakes and sets the bar higher than ever before. When it locks into overdrive right there is when it goes from gory tidings showing no mercy even towards naughtiest ones till 1989’s Deadly Games turns out to be suspenseful December warfare instead of “playful” Christmas thriller.


In Violent Night the quiet is not calm and explosions are fiery. The director, Tommy Wirkola, has hidden sentimental holiday cheer in a David Harbour showpiece that goes crazier than peanut brittle. Wirkola does not hold back and instead turns Home Alone into graphic traps-that-kill homage or Santa engages in bone-stomping under heavy steel loving the B-Movie extremes that more than justify its hard “R” rating. Although Violent Night takes a minute to find its balance and keeps plucking low-hanging wordplay sugar plums, at full power there’s no stopping Santa from making this year one hell of a red Christmas.

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