Tis the season for Hallmark Christmas movies about relationships, cats and strangers who hate each other and then fall in love with each other at the end. Christmas time is a time where everyone seems to have a smile on their face, and songs are sung about peace on earth and goodwill towards men. Violent Night is about none of the above and is destined to be one of the best Christmas movies to appear since Die Hard.
Santa Clause (David Harbour) has lost faith in humanity and children in particular. Pausing for several drinks at a local bar “between” shifts, he waxes on about how kids are excited about a present for 5 seconds before moving on to the next one. The naughty list has continued to grow and spoiled selfish children who only want cash and video games for Christmas now dominate his once-a-year routine. He muses that this may be his last Christmas.
He arrives at a large mansion in New England, delivering a present for 7-year-old Trudy (Leah Brad) when he hears shots ring out from down the hall. Looking to make a hasty retreat up the chimney to his sleigh with 8 tiny reindeer, he is inadvertently pulled into a holiday heist that quickly goes awry. Using a Walkie Talkie that her dad Jason (Alex Hassell) gave her as a “direct link” to Santa, Trudy’s belief in Santa and the Christmas spirit is all it takes to unleash the beast that is Santa Clause.
Violent Night is Die Hard, Home Alone and Miracle on 34th Street all wrapped together in a joyous Christmas present. Exceptionally graphic deaths, particularly when Trudy goes Macaulay Culkin on two of the hapless terrorists left us rolling in our seats. The gore is certainly over-the-top and handled in a way that could only be enjoyed during the Christmas season. Guns certainly feature a predominant role for the terrorists, but Santa Clause isn’t familiar with how these “New Fangled Things” work. Afterall, before he became Jolly St. Nick, he was a ruthless Viking. To say that the deaths are creative would be an understatement, and the movie, while never taking itself too seriously, is more than just popcorn theater.
David Harbour does an outstanding portrayal of Santa, to a degree that few actors could truly pull off. His gruff, alcoholic exterior hides his creamy interior and his love of children. It’s easy to get lost in his character, to a point where your thoughts of your childhood Christmas’s might even include him coming down the Chimney to deliver presents. He is surrounded by a stellar cast, with another Christmas class actress Beverly D’ Angelo taking center stage as his vile (and exceptionally wealthy) mother. Leah Brad absolutely steals the show as the lovable, innocent (yet sometimes naughty) Trudy. Of course, no action film is complete without its cast of villains, who are led by none other than John Leguizamo as the aptly named Scrooge.
Violent Night is a movie that has certainly earned its R rating and takes pride in that fact. Whether a villain takes an icicle to the neck, or a Christmas tree star to the eye, this movie is never afraid to show it’s bold and colorful ways to kill someone. The creativity alone continually out does itself, from a rather simple gunshot wound, to being taken up a chimney and more. Is it gory? Absolutely! Is it fun? ABSOLUTELY!! While you do not necessarily want to take young children to see Violent Night, it is easy to forgive its violence and mayhem based on the fun that it exudes.
Violent Night has all the fixings as a holiday tradition. It has a heart-warming story, loveable (and not so lovable) characters, a sense of joy and wonderment, and of course gory decapitations. For those who feel Die Hard is their favorite Christmas movie of all time, Violent Night might, just might, give it a run for its money. While I’d love to end this review by saying this is a fun movie for the entire family, maybe instead get a babysitter and enjoy it with the older members of the family instead.
4.5 out of 5 stars