violent night

Violent Night review: Violent delights!

Violent Night is now a yearly watch for me. After watching Hans Gruber fall from the Nakatomi Plaza we usually open champagne and say Happy Christmas.

It’s Christmas Time!

Well now I’ll also be putting on the rather brilliant Violent Night! It’s directed by Tommy Wirkola and stars David Harbour as the very angry, and very violent Father Christmas. This iteration of Klaus is suffering from the Christmas blues. He’s sick of people only enjoying the season for gifts, and for being selfish. In fact, in the opening scene we find him getting shit-faced drunk and he threatens this may be the last Christmas!

And to be fair, the people we meet in Violent Night don’t deserve pressies. In fact, they deserve coal. Hot coal. Except for Trudy. She’s a young girl who loves Christmas and believes in Santa. So, what’s the film about?

A family is held hostage as mercenaries try break into a safe to steal $300m. This family consists of Jason and Linda, parents of Trudy, who are visiting Jason’s mother, Gertrude. Also, there is Jason’s alcoholic sister Alva and her absolute bellend of a boyfriend Morgan ‘Steel’. They’re all absolutely terrible. Really, they suck! Stabbing each other in the back for the adoration of a mother who is a complete bastard. Their interactions are hysterical.

Enter John Leguizamo as Jimmy “Mr. Scrooge” Martinez. He’s the leader of the mercenaries and seems to have major issues about Christmas. He is a killer and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get the money. Even if that means torturing people. Which is apt because this movie skirts very close to torture porn!

Bad Santa

Santa gets caught up in the middle of this and decides to help out the family because Trudy is so lovely. He does this in some of the most violent wats possible. You want to see someone’s face set on fire? Check. You want someone impaled on a decoration? Done! How about someone slipping on a ladder and watching a big nail go through their mouth? Sure thing! Yeah, it’s gory as all hell, and it’s glorious!

I laughed hard in this movie. It’s funny because it’s so bloody crazy. Watching David Harbour as Father Christmas is a delight. Really, he pulls it off so well, adding a sadness and depth you definitely wouldn’t expect. And Director Wirkola does a great job weaving story elements from Home Alone and Die Hard. In fact, they are so overt and obvious he nods to them with glee. Trudy even gets to lay traps for the baddies, like Culkin in Home Alone. Only these are bloody as all hell and include perforations, blunt force trauma and decapitations. Hoo hoo hoo!


Violent Night is, of course, not perfect. There are some tonal shifts that don’t work that well. If can be very serious and introspective at times which jars with the silliness of the movie. That said, those moments will work better on subsequent viewings I think. I liked that they gave a very ambiguous origin story to Santa. He’s 1100 years old, and was a blood thirsty Viking? Sure, why the hell not!? He’s having trouble with Mrs Santa? Okay, works with the family theme of the film. It also works because the creatives have said they want to create a follow up sequel that includes her!

Violent Santa

One other gripe, which may have been a ‘me’ thing, was John Leguizamo. His character stood out because he seemed to… Normal. It felt like he thought he was in a standard action movie, when he isn’t. I was expecting him to be as over the top as everyone else, but he isn’t. He has some fantastic lines, don’t get me wrong, and the fact he names all his crew with Christmas themes is brilliant. I just wanted more madness, and less ‘serious action baddie’.

Violent night magic time

Violent Night was a commercial success, thank goodness. As I write this the modest budget of $20m brought in $55m, which is great. The film is surprisingly deep, with plenty of Christmas themed love. And Harbour, I cannot stress this enough, is brilliant!

I give Violent Night a nice


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