Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 52 minutes, Director – Tommy Wirkola
After finding himself stranded in the house of a wealthy family on Christmas Eve Santa (David Harbour) must protect himself and them from a gang of criminals looking to steal millions of dollars.
It seems that a drunk, disgruntled Santa is the role that David Harbour was born to play. As he punches, stabs, pees and belches his way through Violent Night it’s clear that he’s having a fair deal of fun being a part of this film. Even if his hammer-wielding warrior Santa is initially struggling to survive the night after his reindeer fly off and he’s stranded in the estate of the wealthy Lightstone family. A group whose Christmas Eve of bickering and one-upmanship is interrupted by them becoming the hostages of a gang (led by John Leguizamo’s Scrooge) hoping to steal millions of dollars from their vault.
Throughout the night Santa is communicating with youngest Lightstone Trudy (Leah Brady) – a young girl who tops the nice list with acts such as inviting the weird kid to her party, whose Christmas wish is to simply see her distant parents (Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder) make up. The two navigate the house with their own distinct styles, both equally gory but one much more heavily inspired by Home Alone than the other – leading to a particular sequence which in itself is funnier and better than Home Alone is itself (although this is coming from someone who isn’t such a big fan of that film). There’s plenty of creativity on display when it comes to the various attacks and weapons used. From basic weapons to a candy cane shiv and an ice skate which brings a smile to the face as soon as it’s picked up the action sequences are truly the highlights of the film. Certainly filled with bloodshed and rather gory it never feels as if director Tommy Wirkola goes overboard or above anything which fits the film.
In terms of the content which surrounds the various action sequences there are a number of chuckles along the way. Beverly D’Angelo brings a handful of laughs as the foul-mouthed matriarch of the family, alongside the way her children (Hassell and Edi Patterson). In general, if you’ve seen the trailers for Violent Night, you very much get what you might be expecting; an enjoyable flick with plenty of action and a handful of chuckles along the way which, most importantly, doesn’t take itself too seriously. While the final product may be a couple of minutes too long there’s still a consistency with pace and tone so that things don’t really feel as if they drop just before truly wrapping up.
But still, amongst the enjoyable family disputes interrupted, and sometimes caused by, the hostage situation they find themselves in and the skimmed-milk-hating Santa who happens to be present (no pun intended) when things kick off there’s a lot to enjoy. A heavy deal of thrilling violence with plenty of enjoyable additions and sequences mixed with a number of chuckles along the way. As far as new festive offerings go this may just be the most entertaining, albeit crimson-lined, one this year. All led by a deeply enjoyable David Harbour who feels a natural fit for this interpretation of jolly old St Nick.
There’s plenty to enjoy within action highlights of Violent Night, further fuelled by the effective humour and an excellent David Harbour. Made by a lack of seriousness its a consistently entertaining, blood-soaked slay ride.