Violent Night Producer Kelly McCormick on How Violent the Movie Really Is

Jan 3, 2023

There are few things I love more than (fictional) violence. That’s why Violent Night was tailor-made for me. The film, which stars David Harbour as the one and only Santa Claus, is about a massive and bloody heist planned for Christmas Eve, only to be thwarted by none other than Santa himself. As the title promises, it is a violent night, with lots and lots (and lots) of bloodshed. My favorite: beheading by figure skate. There is also plenty of Christmas goodwill for those who need some sentimentality with their Christmas movies.

I spoke with producer Kelly McCormick, in between takes from her new film, The Fall Guy, about Violent Night. We spoke about the gore, the violence, why this film wasn’t a horror movie, her hopes for Violent Night 2, and Nobody 2. Watch what she had to say above, or you can read our conversation below.
COLLIDER: First, I want to start off by thanking you for the beheading with the figure skate because I was a figure skater when I was younger. And so this was my childhood dream come true, seeing somebody beheaded with one.

KELLY MCCORMICK: That’s hysterical. I adore you for that being your first thing up. That’s so funny. I think it’s a little intense. I’m like, “We did that? That’s a lot, guys.” But it’s ridiculous. It’s hysterical.

Image via Universal Pictures

The first thing I said to my husband when I came home was, “Oh my God, they killed somebody with a figure skate.” I love it. This is like every childhood dream come true finally.

MCCORMICK: As a figure skater, you probably had enough of a lot of people and you were like, “I’ll just use my skate.”

Oh my gosh, so much. And those things get sharp too. People don’t realize this.

MCCORMICK: It’s true.

So I was really pleased for that.

MCCORMICK: Good. That’s good to hear.

So, can you talk a bit about your role as the producer on Violent Night? What did you do?

MCCORMICK: Yeah. I mean, all the projects at 87North, with my team of executives, we sort of find them. We sort of develop them, then we get the cast attached. I mean, David [Leitch] and I are definitely on set for the things we produce almost as much as we’re on set for the things that he directs and I produce with him. So it was all in.

I think we are a little bit micro-managerial in the sense that we have a brand that’s kind of bigger than the project in a sense, and we kind of need to be in there whether we like it or not, trying to help make sure that whatever has our label on it feels a lot one of our movies.

Can you talk a little bit about where the idea for the movie came from?

MCCORMICK: Yeah. I mean, Pat [Casey] and Josh [Miller], the writers, actually have had this idea since high school. Funny enough, they used to do sort of one of those kids club video things that had a broadcasting at their school. They went to school together, and they had done a sketch about this back then.

And then they came to us and were like, “What do you think about this?” And it’s just like, “Oh my God, that’s absolutely genius, and we have to do it right now.” And then, fortunately, Universal saw how special it could be as well. And so we feel really lucky that we got the chance. It’s pretty crazy. It’s kind of gonzo. You got to kind of buy in.

It totally is.

MCCORMICK: Yeah, we feel really lucky that that all happened that way.

It’s really gory and really violent. It lives up to its name, but it’s not really a horror movie. It doesn’t have that horror movie vibe to it. Why did you decide, or why did they decide, not to go that route? Why kind of stick with more of an action-comedy route?

MCCORMICK: It was never intended to be horror. It was always going to be action-comedy. And it is action-comedy with a couple of shock-and-awe moments, which I think is part of what makes great action sometimes too, is the surprise. That’s just kind of similar to horror.

I think if there’s any sort of whisper of horror, it actually comes from Tommy Wirkola, the director we decided to attach to the project, who is known a lot for some of his more horror space, although he’s done just action and action-comedies, and action drama as well. And so he ended up being kind of the perfect director because he was ready for the big, but could sort of land the heart, as well. So if there’s any whispers of horror, it’s probably coming from him.

Image via Universal

How did you decide to attach him to the project?

MCCORMICK: He’s been an old friend for a long time. Funny enough, we are huge fans of his Dead Snow, and we’ve actually helped him with some of that stuff, just suggesting an action coordinator director for that sort of stuff. And he directed a movie called Hansel & Gretel for Paramount several years ago, and David was his second unit director before David was a director, and they really clicked. David was more experienced with bigger studio movies and kind of helped guide Tommy in what was a tougher sort of experience with the studio. And they became really close friends, and we’ve been wanting to do something with him for a long time.

So then he recently did this movie called The Trip in Norway. And it was just this perfect project that really articulated where he’s at. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great movie, but it’s got a lot of comedy to it. It’s a dark comedy and a lot of great small action. And so that ended up being a great calling card for us to be able to say, “Let’s put him into Violent Night,” and he got the job.

Cool. So I know that you were on the set for The Fall Guy when you came away to take this interview. What can you tell us about The Fall Guy?

MCCORMICK: It’s awesome. No, we are having an absolute blast. Our full cast is here now, and we are in full-on. I just am so in awe of Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt and Winston Duke and Hannah Waddingham and Stephanie Hsu. I just feel so lucky that we ended up with such an extraordinary cast and incredible actors.

It’s going to feel a lot like an 87North picture and a lot like a David Leitch movie – original, wildly inventive, and emotionally impactful. And I’m just really, really excited about it already.

Okay, cool. So, what about it excites you most?

MCCORMICK: Honestly, it’s David coming from stunts, and telling a story about a stuntman who is coming into his own through having to investigate a crime. [It’s] incredibly special in the sense that we get to do – We’re really trying to do a lot of practical action on this. We always do, but in this case, it’s really big practical action.

And it just feels like we’re paying homage to the stunt community and to, really, cinema and those of us who make the movies. And it’s sort of a love letter to the industry. On top of it just being really fun and what I think will be a really good time for the audience.

I know it’s based on a 1980s series. Were you a fan of the series?

MCCORMICK: I’m not that familiar with the series, but it is a series I’ve gotten to know since I have been on the project. But it is definitely a series that a lot of stuntmen became stuntmen because of. And they did phenomenal action for the time. The practical action, weirdly, doesn’t really happen in television shows anymore. But back then they were doing incredible stunts on the show every day. So it’s pretty cool to have that as our … trying to pay homage to that, I should say.

Image via Universal

So then are all of the stunts then going to be practical in the film?

MCCORMICK: You can never say “all,” my friend. All of them will have elements of practical, and a lot of them will be 100% practical. In fact, our visual effects guys are happy and sad that their jobs are really marginalized on this one. Because these days, visual effects is really king. So they’re sort of like, “This is amazing. And what’s my job? What’s my role? Because you guys are doing so much in camera.” So that’s where we want to be. And that’s really exciting.

Cool. And so what else are you working on?

MCCORMICK: We’re working on a lot of originals right now. We are also working on a Nobody 2. We’re hoping to start working on a Violent Night 2, if everything goes well the next few weeks. We have a tendency to just keep our heads down and focus on what’s in front of us, or near. So yeah, that’s kind of it. We’re in it. We still have two and a half months of work to do on this one.

How far are you in the process of Nobody 2?

MCCORMICK: We hope to make it next year, so fingers crossed. So our theory is you don’t need to make a good sequel just to make a sequel. We need to make a great sequel. And so it’s about making sure that we get it right. And if we do, I think there’s a lot of hope that we can go next year.

Violent Night is in theaters now. For more, check out our interview with David Harbour below:

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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