Rob Reviews "Violent Night"
Ever since “Violent Night” hit my radar a few months ago, my reaction has simply been “you have my attention”. I am a HUGE fan of Christmas movies both proper and adjacent alike and have a checklist of my own for those that I need to watch each year between Black Friday and Christmas Day. There have also seemingly been a resurgence of those that can either be credited or blamed on Hallmark and companies of its ilk, but you won’t see me mad about it. This is truly my favorite time of year, and every few of them a film is released that adds itself to my annual tradition. So, let’s not bury the lead here..
“Violent Night” is nothing short of greatness.
David Harbour (also known from time to time as one of my doppelgangers) is Santa Claus but not in that traditional jolly old man way. He has become disillusioned over time and even thinks this may be his last ride. As he makes his trek around the globe, he winds up at the Lightstone compound. The matriarch in Gertrude (role redacted; if you don’t know, I ain’t telling you) is there and is visited by her son Jason (Alex Hassell), his estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder), their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), Gertrude’s daughter Alva (Edi Patterson), son-in-law Morgan (Cam Cigandet), and Gertrude’s grandson Bert (Alexander Elliot). As the dysfunction kicks into high gear, a group of criminals arrive and take them hostage for a large sum of money believed to be in the house itself. Led by “Mr. Scrooge” (John Leguizamo), they are ruthless and not afraid to kill. Unfortunately, Santa has some tricks up his sleeve and in his bag as well, and those on his naughty list have a price to pay.
At just about an hour and forty minutes, this is a thrill ride that moves at a break-neck pace. By the time my curiosity got the better of me from a time standpoint, we were already halfway through the film, and it did not feel it in any way, shape, or form. Pat Casey and Josh Miller write a script that is ultra-violent and bloody with the right mix of humor and even a little bit of heart that takes what could be a ”B” movie premise and makes it an honestly great film that fits in the mainstream in a way where so many others like it have not.
Harbor is absolutely dead-on in this version of Kris Kringle with the right blend of “ho ho ho” and a man with a level of rage issues that even the best of therapists would charge extra for. Leguizamo does flirt with over-the-top, but walks that line well which fits in with the story itself as he leads some great movie baddies into a battle that features some REALLY great fight scenes and kills that got me to react out loud with reactions from cringing to laughter more than once.
There really is a lot going on here, and I don’t want to ruin anything for you if you plan on checking out “Violent Night,” but know that it truly does earn its “R” rating in a way that does not seem disingenuous; it’s simply that dark in the best of ways. Whether you catch it with a large crowd in a theater or see it in the comfort of your own home with some friends fueled with snack and beverages, this is a fun film that might just help you get over some of the stress of the holidays. I mean, if Santa himself can deal with his rage, can’t you?