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Wirkola’s Gory Christmas Flick Is Wildly Entertaining

Jan 29, 2023

Home Movie Reviews Violent Night Review: Wirkola’s Gory Christmas Flick Is Wildly Entertaining

Violent Night contains ferocious action sequences and gruesome body horror, and it’s a bloody good time.

There’s no time like the end of the year, when families all around the world gather to usher in Christmas cheer through decorations, song, and holiday movies. This season, Universal Pictures will release a new kind of Christmas flick, which sees David Harbour (known best for playing Hopper on Netflix’s Stranger Things) as a barbaric variant of Santa Claus with a potty mouth and zest for booze. Director Tommy Wirkola helms this commemorative mashup of Die Hard and Home Alone from Pat Casey and Josh Miller’s screenplay. A nice balance between thriller and action-comedy, Violent Night sees Harbour let loose on house burglars with a sledgehammer. The film contains ferocious action sequences and gruesome body horror, and it’s a bloody good time.
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David Harbour’s Santa Claus is nearing the end of his love as Old Saint Nick. Feeling down on his faith in humanity and growing tired from having to stuff the stockings of bratty kids, Mr. Claus reluctantly presses on with his Christmas duties. When he visits the Lightstone residence, where Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo) hosts her daughter Alva (Edi Patterson), son Jason (Alex Hassell), and their immediate family members, he’s in for a violent surprise. A team of mercenaries, led by “Mr. Scrooge” (John Leguizamo) have broken into the Lightstone estate seeking three hundred million dollars. Santa Claus seems to be the only one who can save them, along with a little help from the spirited, good kid Trudy (Leah Brady).

Related: David Harbour Interview: Violent Night

Stephanie Sy, Beverly D’Angelo, Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet, Can Aydin, Alexander Elliot, Alexis Louder, Rawleigh Clements-Willis, and John Leguizamo in Violent Night
 

Violent Night is nothing like the average Christmas movie. Wirkola’s feature boasts violence and a hostile family dynamic unlike anything audiences have seen in a long time. From the producers of films like Nobody and John Wick, the Christmas film packs heavy action sequences with great camera work and choreography to match. It’s the best of Christmas goofiness with the right amount of corny one-liners, but it also contains the perfect amount of jaw-dropping carnage. Essentially, it’s experimental, yet it complements the existing tropes within its genre while earning its R rating at every moment possible. Blending these elements is no easy feat, but thanks to Casey and Miller’s exhilarating script and Wirkola’s direction, this new Christmas classic is non-stop fun.

While it’s easy to recognize Wirkola’s latest as a wildly entertaining and on-the-nose showcase of storytelling influences from the likes of Home Alone, the script goes beyond the minimum to embrace its fundamental strengths. The film doesn’t shy away from locking in on the sentimental, yielding some truly heartwarming scenes when certain characters aren’t being shot at or brutally murdered by Mr. Claus himself. With that being said, there are some pacing issues that become obvious when these moments begin to intersect. Sometimes, they overextend their stay; during other sequences, they are interrupted as quickly as they commence. A balanced approach would’ve strengthened the feature even further, but ultimately there’s no real barrier that interrupts the overall enjoyment.

While there have been several actors who’ve taken up the Santa Claus mantle over the years, it is David Harbour who brings in a layered performance to reveal a new side to the jolly Father Christmas. His performance is simply wonderful. He integrates humanity to a figure whose motto is holiday cheer and whose existence comes from Christmas magic. It’s evident throughout this feature that Harbour had a grand time playing this vicious version of Santa Claus. His resounding efforts at every corner set an example of how to truly have fun with a role. While his scene companions don’t often have opportunities to match his energy, their performances never take away from the true star of the show.

Packed with raunchy dialogue and bloody action sequences, Violent Night is crowd-pleasing and a great time at the movies. This isn’t an average Christmas flick, but it’s exactly why this entertaining parable of a sledgehammer-wielding Santa Claus will catch viewers by surprise. The film doesn’t always meet its mark when it comes to adequate pacing, but there are plenty of highs to overcome even fewer lows in this delightfully bloody good time. As the icing on the cake, David Harbour brings a layered and emotional performance in between squirm-inducing kills, leading to a theater experience that is vivacious and worth every second on the big screen.

Next: The Noel Diary Review: Hartley & Ross Have Electric Chemistry In Emotional Drama

Violent Night releases in theaters Friday, December 2. The film is 112 minutes long and rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.

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