film reel image

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Saturday, December 24, 2022

Violent Night 2022 * * * Stars


2022's Violent Night certainly earns its title. Not just from a Christmas standpoint (it's a RhymeZone version of that song), but from a "violent" standpoint as well. An Xmas star to the eye, a sledgehammer to the face, a bullet to the head, a nail through the chin. "Ho ho hurt" as in ouch!

So OK, you've probably heard that Violent Night is a combo of Die Hard and Home Alone. Guess what, it is and it's so obvious. I mean the filmmakers actually reference the flicks in a hint, hint sort of way. Walkie talkies (check), booby traps (check), Santa Claus getting his groove on as an antihero Bruce Willis on steroids (Czechoslovakia!).

The only differences with the two: "Night" is more savage than Die Hard but it doesn't take itself seriously whereas Die Hard rightfully does. As for Home Alone, well the bad guys actually lived in that one. Heck, the baddies in Violent Night bite the proverbial dust as if they were paperweights in a snuff and/or grindhouse production. It's brutally for brutality's sake, all sensationalized for the silly season.

Watching Violent Night, you wonder why it wasn't made twenty years ago. The diegesis is rather genius, a way to divert your attention from all things Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck. The actual Santa (played by a well cast David Harbour) is clearly an alcoholic and Christmas Eve is just another day at the office for him. When he enters a wealthy home to deliver presents, he stumbles upon some murderous thieves who have taken a family hostage for a cool 300 mil. Santa's solution to save said family is a "violent" one (duh). I mean how did Mr. Claus learn to fight like Jason Statham and/or Van Damme (yikes)?

Bottom line: Violent Night is an entertaining if not choppily made thriller with a whiff of camp. It's action scene then payoff then action scene then payoff. The way it's lit and with certain long shots signifying all things Noel, "Night" definitely feels like a Christmas movie whereas Die Hard doesn't (per a certain interview, I side with Willis on this issue). It's happy holidays here even though the blood is clearly flowing off the tinsel.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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