Director – Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)
Starring – David Harbour (Stranger Things, Suicide Squad), John Leguizamo (Spawn, Super Mario Bros), and Beverly D’Angelo (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills)
Release Date – 2022
Rating – 4/5
Actor David Harbour is a familiar name especially among genre fans. He’s been working steadily since the early 2000s but didn’t become a household name until he appeared in Stranger Things as Jim Hopper. Since then he’s appeared in Marvel’s Black Widow, DC’s Suicide Squad, Hellboy, and Drunk History, and The Simpsons just to name a few. Back before the holiday seasons I saw trailers posted in various movie groups for Harbour’s newest film Violent Night. I checked it out and was fucking impressed by it. I couldn’t imagine a Christmas film with this type of budget feature a story this outlandish.
I had originally planned on watching it theaters with a friend, but work and life got the best of me. When I received the press release for the physical release of the film, I knew I had to jump on it. It was after Christmas, but I didn’t give a fuck. I had to see it so I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send over a copy of the film on blu for review.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Santa (Harbour) who has a taste for alcohol and finds himself passed out in a massaging chair in a mansion on Christmas. He just happens to be in the very mansion where a rich and powerful woman is getting together with her family to celebrate Christmas when a group of organized thieves take over her home demanding the millions she keeps in a private vault. Santa is forced to fight off the heavily armed and trained intruders one at a time in order to save a young girl who still believes in him and her family. **Spoiler Alert**
Violent Night is one hell of a good time. Here I am in February watching one of the most entertaining Christmas films I’ve been sent for review and I don’t care that I’m not in the holiday spirit. It was one of the wildest films I’ve seen in awhile and just when I think it can’t top itself it does something completely unexpected. This is a must see and I don’t care what time of year it is when you watch it for the first time.
The acting in this one is great all the way around. Harbour is absolutely fantastic as Santa. The character is just as grizzled as Hopper but he shows a more action oriented side that we don’t see in Stranger Things. I wouldn’t say he carried the film but his fight scenes are fucking legendary. We also have amazing performances from John Leguizamo, Beverly D’Angelo, and Edi Patterson just to name a few. I was really surprised to see Brendan Fletcher in the film. He’s an extremely underrated actor having appeared in the Goosebumps’ episode Werewolf of Fever Swamp along with Freddy vs. Jason, and Ginger Snaps 2 just to name a few. I hope to see him appear in more films.
The story for this one reminded me a lot of some other films that I enjoy. The basic premise of the film felt like a Christmas themed film influenced by Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody. They then tossed in elements of Die Hard and Home Alone. We essentially have an alcoholic Santa forced to pick up the war hammer again and clobber some nameless bad guys before they hurt a kid on the nice list. While he is fighting off the armed gunmen, the little girl is locked in the attic setting up traps for the intruders. It blends them all together into something that is wild, action packed, and very violent with great pacing and scene structure.
Finally, the film has a lot of imaginative and enjoyable deaths. We get a few gun shot deaths that are what you have seen millions of times before. However, the Christmas theme is used in several other deaths and they were violent, bloody, and highly enjoyable. The effects are brilliant and we get a beautiful blending of visual and practical effects. Overall, Violent Night should be on everyone’s watch list during the holiday season but the movie is worth your time any time during the year. I can’t recommend this film enough.