Sunday, March 26, 2023

REVIEW: Violent Night (live action movie)

Violent Night is an action/dark comedy Christmas movie. I bought my copy new.


A rich and just plain awful family gets together on Christmas Eve, only to be interrupted by armed robbers who plan to steal millions from war profiteer Grandma's vault. Luckily, Santa is there to save the day (although initially he just wants to get out of this situation as quietly and quickly as possible). Through conversations with Trudy, an adorable child who recently got to watch Home Alone for the first time, Santa gradually morphs from a bitter, lonely, drunken disaster into the murderous Norse warrior he used to be, all in the name of ensuring that good girls like Trudy get the wonderful Christmas memories they deserve.

This managed to have more heartfelt "Christmas movie" moments in it than I expected. David Harbour is going to get himself typecast as "gruff, tough father figure" if he isn't careful - he's really good at it, and the scenes between him and Leah Brady (Trudy) were generally great.

That said, this definitely has lots of over-the-top violence. When Trudy's mom mentioned that Trudy had gotten to see Home Alone, I knew the audience was going to be treated to at least one scene in which Trudy set up Home Alone-style traps that were as lethal as that movie couldn't allow them to be. (I was right. Yeesh, that scene with Gingerbread.)

I had expected Santa to be more violent right from the start, but his reasons for initially attempting to keep his violence to a minimum made sense - he viewed his past Norse warrior self as the sort of person who'd definitely be on the Naughty list. It was Trudy who helped him see how he could use his scary warrior side for good. ( a dark and bloody sort of way.)

Just about every Chistmas-y/wintery possible way to kill someone was employed in this movie. Candy cane shanks, ice skates as lethal weapons, Christmas lights or garlands used to strangle people, Christmas tree star through the eye, death by chimney, etc. This movie somehow simultaneously balanced its Christmas warm fuzzies and over-the-top bloody violence and made it all work. I'm not entirely sure how, but one of the rules seemed to be that Trudy could only be exposed to a limited amount of violence, and no blood, although this somehow didn't stop her from being responsible for one of the movie's gorier deaths.

The one bit of violence that the movie couldn't seem to stick to was the one character whose finger got broken - it rarely seemed to have an effect on that character's later scenes. Even Santa experienced more lasting damage.

The one aspect of this movie that disappointed me slightly: we never got to meet Mrs. Claus. Considering the number of times Santa talked about her, I was sure she'd turn up at some point, possibly in a scene near the end as Santa's backup, but no such luck. Oh well - I suppose she either wouldn't have measured up to my mental image of her, or she would've been so awesome I'd have been disappointed at her overall lack of screen time.


Deleted and extended scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes.

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