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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

‘Violent Night’ Review – Bloody Holiday Action Movie Earns a Spot on the Nice List

Bloody Disgusting’s Violent Night review is spoiler-free.

This holiday season brings a new answer to the tired debate over Die Hard: the ultra-violent yet sugar plum sweet Violent Night. Director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) infuses his gore-soaked sense of humor into an amalgamation of familiar holiday fare, ushering a new crowd-pleasing Christmas-set actioner eager to splatter the snow red.

Violent Night introduces Santa Claus (David Harbour) as a cynic drowning his frustrations in booze at a bar on Christmas Eve. He laments the current greedy state of the world and its children to fellow patrons before stumbling off into the night to complete his holiday duties. Not before upchucking, of course; this Santa is a sloppy drunk.

Then, we meet the Lightstone family, an affluent and dysfunctional bunch gathering for Christmas. Young Trudy (Leah Brady) wants her estranged parents, Jason (Alex Hassell) and Linda (Alexis Louder), to reunite, both driven apart thanks to the overbearing Lightstone matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’AngeloNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). It won’t be obnoxious relatives threatening to ruin Christmas, but a group of deadly mercenaries led by Scrooge (John Leguizamo) out for Gertrude’s wealth.

No one was prepared for Santa Claus to enter the equation, and this jolly elf has a naughty streak.

Violent Night review david harbour

(from left) David Harbour and John Leguizamo on the set of Violent Night.

Writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller (Sonic the Hedgehog) pack Violent Night full of cinematic holiday influences. Aside from swapping John McClane for a feral Santa Claus, there’s an utterly heartwarming tale of a young girl’s steadfast loyalty to Santa and Christmas magic. Magic that can and might save those she loves most. Lines of dialogue and even casting pay tribute to holiday faves but look for the greatest hits to make their way into the violence, too. That Casey and Miller even manage to riff on a memed-to-death Halloween Kills line speaks to the humor here. While some of the puns delight, others earn a lump of coal; poor Leguizamo is forced to deliver some of the worst holiday-centric dialogue.

David Harbour is more than up to the task as the disgruntled Kris Kringle, and the character’s transformation from a pessimistic drunk to a bloodthirsty avenger with a thawed heart is infectious. The actor more than sells his character’s ability to take a brutal beating. Considering this is a Wirkola feature, that’s a necessity. Wirkola uses the inherent sweetness of Trudy and her plight as leverage to cut loose on the season’s beatings. For every gruesome and inventive kill, Wirkola stops just long enough to retain the holiday spirit before resuming the beatdowns and beheadings with reckless abandon. Brady’s affable and darling portrayal of Trudy provides the balance that makes this work so well. It’s hard not to get disarmed by Trudy and Santa negotiating curse words between brutal brawls.

Violent Night review Christmas

Violent Night doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, nor is it looking for any deep introspection on Christmas. Save for Trudy and her mother, it’s a case of naughty versus naughtier. It’s a simple, straightforward story of Santa saving Christmas, yet again, this time with a delightfully low-brow wink and an onslaught of grisly holiday surprises. Not even some silly dialogue or a pacing lull in the middle can slow down Santa’s lust for carnage here. However, Harbour’s commitment to the role and Wirkola’s affinity for creative gore and violence certainly helps.

All of it makes for a wildly entertaining holiday romp that’ll scratch that itch for a definitive Christmas actioner. With the impressive body count, explosions, excessive bloodshed, heart, and holiday cheer, Violent Night earns an easy spot on the Nice List.

Violent Night releases in theaters on December 2, 2022.

The post ‘Violent Night’ Review – Bloody Holiday Action Movie Earns a Spot on the Nice List appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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