Combustible Celluloid Review - Violent Night (2022), Pat Casey, Josh Miller, Tommy Wirkola, David Harbour, Beverly D'Angelo, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson, Leah Brady, Brendan Fletcher, André Eriksen, Alexander Elliot, Mike Dopud, Mitra Suri, Stephanie Sy, Sean Skene, Erik Athavale, Can Aydin, Cha-Lee Yoon, Phong Giang
Combustible Celluloid
 
With: David Harbour, Beverly D'Angelo, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson, Leah Brady, Brendan Fletcher, André Eriksen, Alexander Elliot, Mike Dopud, Mitra Suri, Stephanie Sy, Sean Skene, Erik Athavale, Can Aydin, Cha-Lee Yoon, Phong Giang
Written by: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references
Running Time: 101
Date: 12/02/2022
IMDB

Violent Night (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Candy Slain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Decked with blood, gore, and strong language, Violent Night is no kids' movie, but David Harbour's lovable performance and a gleeful irreverence toward the familiar action scenes make this a fun holiday gift.

It's Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus (David Harbour) is feeling burned out from too much greed and too little Christmas spirit. Meanwhile, Jason Lightstone (Alex Hassell) is heading to an annual holiday family gathering with his estranged wife, Linda (Alexis Louder), and their daughter, Trudy (Leah Brady). They will be spending the holiday with his insanely wealthy mother, Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D'Angelo), his nasty sister (Edi Patterson), and her family.

Just as Santa arrives there to deliver gifts, and takes a break to sample some fine liquor along with his cookies, the criminal mastermind called "Mr. Scrooge" (John Leguizamo) breaks in with his gang of minions, intending to steal $300 million from Gertrude's vault. But the money appears to be missing, and the Lightstones are taken hostage. However, because Trudy is a true believer, Santa musters up some long-buried strength and courage to fight those on the "Naughty" list and hopefully save the day.

Violent Night takes cues from many other Christmas movies, from Bad Santa to Elf and Home Alone, from Fatman to Die Hard itself, but nothing feels copied, and nothing feels like homage. It somehow gets away with an attitude of "let's have lots of fun and who cares what gets wrecked in the process!" The Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola is known for this kind of movie, including the crazy Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow (2009) and the zany Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

With these movies, Wirkola proves that he knows his horror movie history, he loves horror movies that are aware horror movies, and he's not afraid to climb on top of this rickety stack, re-inventing every basic moment, every step of the way. It's an approach that might have been exhausting in Violent Night, watching one brutal killing after another as they grow bloodier and bloodier, if not for Harbour.

He brings exactly the right tone to his Santa Claus, and keeps things centered. He's weary and cynical, never too excited, and yet still full of love and hope. We can watch him take out a trained army with nothing more than a sledgehammer and still want to give him a big ol' bear hug when it's done. (Never mind that the white trim on his red coat has turned pink from all the blood spatter.)

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