As a fan of Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola since 2009 — after discovering his brilliant Dead Snow — I somehow missed that he was helming Violent Night. My excitement for the film skyrocketed. Lucky for us, Wirkola works his magic to whip what was probably a much lamer screenplay on paper, into a manic gorefest full of enough Christmas cheer to choke a reindeer. Violent Night is the perfect mix of Home Alone, Die Hard, Bad Santa, and Miracle on 34th Street — yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, just make sure you stay off his naughty list.
It’s Christmas Eve in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Jason (Alex Hassell) gets picked up by Linda (Alexis Louder), and their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), to head to Grandma Gertrude’s (Beverly D’Angelo) compound for Christmas. Here, they get to spend the holiday stuck with Jason’s alcoholic sister Alva (Edi Patterson), her social media-obsessed son Bert (Alexander Elliot), and her B-list actor/boyfriend Morgan Steel (Cam Gigandet). When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but a team of mercenaries — led by “Scrooge” (John Leguizamo) — who get more than they fear, after Santa (David Harbour) is stranded by his eight tiny reindeer.
While the internet will never reach the obvious conclusion that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, there will be no mistakes made here. And not just because Santa is the main character. Violent Night is hilarious, gory, and unabashedly sentimental. And oozes holiday spirit from start to finish to boot. Puns, visual gags, and even Dominic Lewis’s score — already one of my new all-time favorites — is filled to the brim with the spirit of the season. Harbour runs the show, but this is another great ensemble piece with each of the rest of the cast finding moments to shine. Brady’s endearing, gleeful, and endearing Trudy is perfectly in sync with Harbour’s loveably grisled Santa portrayal.
And while it may wear its inspiration on its sleeves, it still manages to carve out its own story at the same time. Anyone who may be interested in how a real life Home Alone situation may play out, just wait until you feast your eyes on this house of tricks. The film delivers on every set piece. If they show you something that could result in serious bodily damage, it does! A snowblower hasn’t been so hilariously used since the Child’s Play remake. There’s only so much love I can rein, err, rain down upon Violent Night. It lives up to every expectation and a new annual tradition has officially been unleashed!