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The Hollywood Insider Violent Night Movie Review

Photo: ‘Violent Night’ 

In 1988, there was an R-rated action film that took place during Christmas time. That movie is ‘Die Hard’ which starred Bruce Willis as the loose-cannon cop who saves innocent people from a group of terrorists at a skyscraper in Los Angeles. Now in 2022, there is a new R-rated Christmas action film called ‘Violent Night’ which stars David Harbour of the hit show ‘Stranger Things’ as a Santa Claus who brutally massacres bad guys just to save a snobby family. It will astonish audiences with dark humor and gruesome graphic violence. Seeing David Harbour in a Santa Claus suit will sort of remind some audiences of the slasher horror film ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ since it features a character who also dresses like Santa Claus and goes on a murdering spree. What makes ‘Violent Night’ different is the fact that it is an action film that goes for thrilling shock values. ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ uses its violence for the sake of making their audiences uncomfortable but wondering if the next kill will be more gruesome than the next for the sake of menacing terror.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that the screenplay for  ‘Violent Night’ was written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller who both wrote ‘Sonic The Hedgehog,’ a video game adaptation movie that was intended for adults. This time, the two writers collaborated once again by making an R-rated action Christmas movie that is intended for older audiences. The executive producers chose Tommy Wirkola, who previously directed ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,’ which is also an R-rated action film with gory violence. It’s safe to say that audiences who expect a gory, adrenaline-fueled movie will get what they came here to see. 


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The Film’s Premise and Merits

‘Violent Night’ is a delight for action-movie lovers. David Harbour’s Santa is a foul-mouthed drinker. He is fed up with children since he believes they are ungrateful and spoiled to the bone. Santa Claus is real in this story. He’s just not the usual stereotypical Santa Claus that is kind-hearted to the children that would sit on his lap and would ask him for several presents. This Santa is more cynical and believes that Christmas is materialistic and has no soul or meaning. As a matter of fact, his character will remind some audiences of Billy Bob Thorton’s version of Santa Claus in ‘Bad Santa’ due to his sense of deadpan humor as well. 

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Santa Claus, however, becomes involved in a hostage situation that involves a wealthy family that is being held captive by burglars who plan to open a vault in their home and steal $300 million dollars. This premise is very similar to ‘Die Hard’ since this Santa Claus is in a similar predicament of danger to Bruce Willis’ character John McClane. Only this time, it takes place in a fancy home that takes place in the middle of nowhere instead of a building. What makes it very interesting is that the robbers tend to steal from the dysfunctional Lightstone family. Audiences will see that Beverly D’Angelo plays the mother-in-law which is the polar opposite of her character in ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.’ The loathsome daughter Alva is played by Edi Patterson. The equally dreadful son Bertrude is played by Alexander Elliot. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that John Leguizamo plays the villain who calls himself Scrooge and leads the group of thieves. I find it very interesting that the executives have him on board as the movie’s lead villain because he’s known as the evil clown in ‘Spawn.’ Seeing how this dysfunctional family interacts with each other will remind one of the Roy family in the hit show ‘Succession.’

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The only likable family member character that saves the night is the daughter Trudy (played by Leah Brady), who will remind audiences of the lead character from ‘Home Alone’ because she chooses to help Santa Claus to attack the bad guys with her skills of building booby traps around the house. Unlike in the movie ‘Home Alone,’ the bad guys get attacked in a brutal fashion. Audiences will also enjoy seeing David Harbour playing as the vicious Santa Claus who chooses to help Trudy because she is on his nice list of children who behaved well for the rest of the year. There are scenes when he attacks his enemies by using items such as a sledgehammer, a snow blower, and a star-shaped Christmas decoration to jam it into someone’s eye. 

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In Conclusion

I wouldn’t normally recommend this film to children or teens. Despite the fact that there’s no nudity in this film, the graphic violence is enough to make it very clear that it is a film that is intended for adults. It’s very humorous, but the killings are dark. The film is inspired by 70s, 80s, and perhaps even 1990s flicks that celebrate Christmas with an R-rated actioner. 

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The film isn’t made for the sake of winning Oscars. It was made with the intention for action buffs to have a good time and to watch bad guys getting mauled by David Harbor, who plays a cynically humorous Santa Claus who decides to stay and help a snobby family due to the daughter’s likable persona. For those who enjoyed the similar approach of an action film that takes place in one night and one place in the tradition of ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Violent Night’ will be enjoyed by cinephiles who are aware of being entertained through gruesome killings and dark humor. David Harbour has given a performance that is just as likable as his lead character in the newest and latest adaptation of ‘Hellboy,’ which was released in 2019. He has proven to audiences that he is capable of having more lead roles in movies as well as having a recurring role in a show like ‘Stranger Things.’ 

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller

Starring David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo,  and John Leguizamo

By Marco Castaneda

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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