Santa brings the Presents and the Pain in the ultra-violent yet heartwarming Violent Night
Violent Night stars David Harbour as Santa Claus but this isn’t your usual jolly Father Christmas oh no, this one drinks excessively, swears and, as the title suggests, is very violent. He is also jaded from doing the job for so long, believing that the ‘magic’ has long gone from Christmas. The film opens with a scene in a bar and proceeds to show early on just how different this Santa Claus is: be it throwing up on someone after drinking too much, urinating off of the side of the sleigh mid-flight, eschewing the milk laid out for him for some alcohol instead – it’s all here leaving us under no illusion as to the type of main character he is.
What follows is a feel-good family film at its heart which is also funny and has enough action to keep its target audience satisfied. The film follows the template of another Christmas movie: Die Hard (YES I said Christmas movie…..): that of a main character trapped in a location where people are held hostage and he must free them. Instead of the Nakatomi Plaza we have the home of a wealthy family and instead of John McClane we have Santa.
Looking for a different kind of Christmas movie, check out ‘Spirited’, review here
Die Hard is even referenced in the film and there are subtle references to it throughout including the use of walkie-talkies to communicate between the main character and another character and a brief call back to the walking on glass scene but with the glass in this instance being crushed up Christmas bauble decorations.
What the festive set up does is allow for some pretty inventive uses of all things festive including the use of Christmas decorations as weapons. The film even shows, through the use of fleeting flashbacks, who this Santa Claus was before taking on the mantle making it somewhat plausible that he could indeed hold his own against a wave of mercenaries which should be commended as it does provide some context and does not make the central premise of the movie even more utterly ridiculous than it already is.
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Harbour is supported by an excellent cast who, although have limited screentime, do elicit laughs from the audience and provide some much-needed levity to go along with the ultra-violent scenes. At its core Violent Night is a story about the magic of Christmas and the belief in Santa Claus and there are some genuinely heart-warming and even emotional scenes in the film. If I had one criticism about the film, it is that there is quite a bit of screentime dedicated to these moments which some may find detracts from the action.
There are some noticeable lulls between action scenes as time is dedicated to that bit of storytelling and those who came to see non-stop action may be disappointed by these intervals but I personally found the movie more engaging because of this: it is a film that appeals a little bit to everyone and is one that I would definitely recommend as an action-packed, funny, feel-good, festive film that all should see,
Violent Night hits cinemas on Friday 2nd December.