“Violent Night”

“Santa’s getting mad.”

Story: It’s been a rough couple of centuries for ol’ Santa. So maybe this is his last year delivering presents “…to kids who really need me.” Meanwhile, the uber-rich Lightstone family gathers together for their annual uncomfortable holiday shindig. Everybody’s garbage, except for adorable Cindy Lou Who Trudy, who still holds fast to her belief in the jolly dude. When extremely naughty bad guys decide to do a burgle at the Lightstone family compound when Santa’s delivering presents? Ho ho ho, it’s on like icing on gingerbread.

Genre I’d put it in: Merry Mayhem
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on various myths of Santa Claus, but otherwise original

Gotta say: Please, please, please. Go into Night as blind as possible. That official final trailer you’re about to watch? Skip it. The clip that’s tempting you? Pass. Don’t spoil a moment of this gloriously gory, hilariously inappropriate, yet surprisingly heartfelt story. Halfway through this screening, I figured this would end up in my Must Watch During December playlist. After the credits rolled, I was completely certain that Night is a holiday tradition in the making. So I urge any Christmas-y folks to join in on the fun. You won’t be sorry.

David Harbor was made to play Santa. He digs into the character with unabashed glee, and a genuine depth of feeling that adds a gravitas to the story that otherwise would have simply been “Home Alone With A Gore Budget”. Add an incredible performance by young Leah Brady as Trudy Lightstone, and Night becomes a buddy comedy. Fine, one with decapitations, but a buddy comedy nonetheless. Yep, Night does not hold back on the outcome of various smackdowns. This film shows you exactly what happens when people get bashed within an inch of their lives…or straight-up killed. There’s A Lot of murders going on as this story unfolds, and believe me, it’s no Silent Night when the ish goes down.

Directory Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) dusts off his penchant for enjoyably weird/delightfully gory stories here, covering the holiday with blood and tinsel. And the humor is sprinkled liberally with lots of naughty words Santa ain’t too keen on (at least when he’s sober). Remember; this is an R-rated film, heavy on the R. If you’re thinking about bringing the kiddos, think about what they can handle, and weigh your options. Me? I think seeing Santa as a badass would only end up as a plus in a kid’s column, but I was always a precocious little jerk. Which Leah Brady definitely is not; I’m typically iffy on kid characters in holiday films, as most of them are so faux-adorable it makes my teeth hurt. But Brady manages to be genuinely sweet. Kid actors, take note. Special shout-out to the gentleman who plays Ralph the gate guard (who isn’t credited on IMDb, an absolute miscarriage of justice); I gave a damn about him when things started to go down. Not too shabby for a character that barely has five minutes of screen time. Oh, and a confused “Cool, Cool” to Beverly D’Angelo’s plastic surgeon, who’s made her well night unrecognizable. Seriously, I thought she was an aged-up Melanie Griffith after a heavy dose of prednisone. Bev, you’re a gorgeous woman. Allow yourself to be the natural beauty you are.

Okay, time for the usual breakdown. The cinematography is really incredible. Seriously, Matthew Weston did not have to go so hard with the gorgeous winter wonderland shots, and the crisp focus that adds to the coldness in the air (and the family.) But I’m glad he did. The art direction is over-the-top, as it should be for a house owned by someone who’d make the 1% feel broke. And, of course, I have to give it up to the reindeer and Santa’s sleigh; it’s gorgeous and gritty, like it’s actually been used for quite some time. Add on the fantastic tats and scars Santa has – along with his wonderfully detailed wound FX – and Night has the kind of realism I love to sink into.

So yeah, sneak in all the candy canes, holiday cookies, and whateverall floats your boat this season. Heck, dress up; I did. (Y’all know I live for a theme.) You’ll want to sink into the holiday feels Night throws at you. Next time I go – and yeah, I’ll be shelling out my hard-earned to see this one again – I’ll be bringing spiked eggnog. Y’know, for Santa. Yep. Exactly this.

#Protip: Check out David Harbor ranking fellow holiday headliners as Naughty or Nice in this clip right here.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
This entry was posted in 7 Pieces Of, Holiday-ness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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