Violent Night Sleighs with a Sack of Gory Goodies
Violent Night is a campy, comedic, gory action delight. The hilarious holiday action flick comes to life by flipping the scripts of a tired horror film trope and a tired Internet meme. It supercharges those concepts with the chaotic energy of Die Hard, Home Alone, and Evil Dead 2.
One part is reversing the tired horror trope of “what if Santa but he’s a homicidal evil maniac?” There are more than a dozen of these mostly middling films. What we have in Violent Night is “what if Santa but he’s a good person who cares so much about kids on his ‘good list’ he’ll tap into his own history of trauma to murder the hell out of anyone who threatens them.”
The other part is, ugh, and I don’t even want to write it: “Die Hard is a Christmas movie!” Yes, we get it. Congrats. You’ve been repeating that for more than a decade so it is literally now a Christmas movie. Do you know what’s edgy? Considering 2005’s Australian-western The Proposition a Christmas movie. I don’t see anyone giving Nick Cave and John Hillcoat the Die Hard is a Christmas movie treatment.
Violent Night takes the idea that “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” and says, “well, okay, but what if Die Hard was literally a Christmas movie? With Santa Claus? And Christmas magic? And Sam Raimi directed it?”
This action romp, which is not at all a horror movie (sorry people who don’t watch trailers or read descriptions before going to the movies), manages to pull off some of the most creative murders of the year.
In fact, I’d dare say as someone who watches too many horror films, Violent Night delivers one of the most over-the-top supernatural kills of this young decade.
Through all of the murder and bonkers mayhem it also somehow manages to capture the sentimental Christmas spirit better than many modern Christmas flicks. I felt my Grinch heart grow multiple sizes more than once while watching the interaction between David Harbour as Santa and Leah Brady as Trudy.
Of course, David Harbour gets top billing, but can we for a moment recognize John Leguizamo’s delicious ability to chew the goddamn scenery with aplomb? He’s clearly well on the ascent of his second career arc. Look at his last three films: voicing Bruno in Encanto, fashioning his character in The Menu around the awfulness of Steven Segal (link below), and Violent Night‘s Mr. Scrooge who stands proudly next to Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber
Do you need to see it in theaters?
Absolutely. This one is best viewed with a reactive audience.