Nothing quite gets me into the Christmas spirit like a holiday heist!
It’s 2022 and you should already realize that Die Hard is Christmas movie. That’s not up for debate. It’s an all-time favorite of mine which I revisit at some point midway through December, just about every year. Now, follow me here. What if John McClain was replaced by Santa Claus as the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time? It’s a challenge that Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) gladly accepts with the bloody holiday delight, Violent Night!
Family gatherings during the holidays can lead to increased liquor consumption as a coping mechanism. So, when a particularly dysfunctional family with a whole lot of money reunites, you should expect some fireworks. And that’s before a team of mercenaries turns the festivities into a hostage situation. Little did they know Kris Kringle would save the day.
There are quite a few non-traditional holiday films floating about the cloud, but I don’t think I’ve ever imagined the jolly fellow as an effective — but unlikely — crime fighter. Appearing atop the title credits here is David Harbour. Fast and furious, the backstory of the man, the myth, the legend is loosely interpreted or reimagined, with many of the character’s “What Ifs” mysteriously left unexplained. But in a film like this one, it’s best to go with the flow.
What begins as a frustrated Santa commenting on the commercialization of the holiday and kids only wanting more, more, more does hit home. Somewhat in a drunken stupor, Father Christmas gets figuratively caught without his sack of goodies — but this isn’t a Bad Santa. He’s had a rough past before donning the big red suit, so he can handle himself should a rough opportunity arise.
“Time for some season’s beatings…”
John Leguizamo’s Scrooge is a pretty good master criminal, but Beverly D’Angelo steals just about every scene as the ruthless matriarch of the group. Honestly, it’s great to see the actress appear in another holiday film that isn’t National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Violent Night is brought to life by 87North, the bare-knuckle producers of Nobody, John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 and Bullet Train. That’s a pretty great track record that only impresses with this release, even if Home Alone seems to have been an unlikely story inspiration. Suffering from cheesy dialogue at times, the story’s outrageous enough to enjoy the ridiculous ride. It’s a fun anti-traditional holiday film that builds up to a bloody, brutal finale.
The main question that lingers in my mind is what kind of genre is this film? The production company lists it as an action comedy, but I could easily classify this as home invasion horror or a holiday mashup at the very least. That may be a little vague, but what isn’t is my reaction. Clocking in with a reported $20 million budget, if successful this holiday season, a sequel seems likely. And I’d definitely say it’s necessary.
Director Tommy Wirkola leaves me wanting to see more from this dysfunctional group. Call it a Christmas miracle if you will, but I hope Violent Night has long legs at the box office throughout the holidays so many people get the opportunity to enjoy this seasonal film at theaters.