A blood-spattered Christmas blender full of “Die Hard 2”, “Bad Santa”, “Christmas Vacation” and all things Tarantino, 2022’s VIOLENT NIGHT is a hilarious yuletide treat.
David Harbour (Stranger Things) is perfectly cast as a Santa Claus tired of modern-day brats wanting nothing but cash and video games. The entitlement meter is off the charts while Christmas spirit has bottomed out.
Like Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, Harbour’s St. Nick is fond of his beer and prone to spewing a little puke at the most inopportune moment.
Just when Santa thinks there are no good kids left on Earth, he meets young Trudy Lightstone (a great Leah Brady). Trudy has just arrived at her mega wealthy Grandma Gertrude’s house for a Christmas Eve get together attended by her very greedy, money-grubbing relatives. Trudy’s Dad Jason (Alex Hassell from “The Boys”) is estranged from her Mom, Linda (Alexis Louder) who appears to be the only relatively unpampered one in the bunch.
The film gets a lot of comic relief from Edi Patterson as Aunt Alva, who’s just arrived with her dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks B-movie star boyfriend Morgan Steel (Cam Gigandet). Alva is the ultimate gold digger, perhaps only exceeded by her obnoxious influencer, teenage son Bert (Alexander Elliot).
Grandma Gertrude is played by Beverly D’Angelo (Ellen in Christmas Vacation) as a foul-mouthed, iron fisted ruler over the family fortune.
That fortune is suddenly in danger when our bad guy Scrooge (John Leguizamo) and his band of Euro-villains arrive at the Lightstone mansion armed to the teeth and after a whole lot of cash. Leguizamo is terrific as the Alan Rickman of the Die-Hard bunch and Andre Eriksen and Brendan Fletcher are standouts on his crew, along with Mitri Suri as Candy Cane, a very lethal assassin.
When Santa comes down the chimney of the manor, he finds some very good Scotch, along with the sudden realization he’s in the middle of a full-on armed assault. Watching Santa go toe-to-toe with some very bad dudes is unexpectedly hilarious.
Harbour is excellent, generating a lot of laughs as the closest thing you’ll ever see to John Mclane/Santa. The fist fights and machine gun fire are non-stop, as is Santa’s bad-assery in dealing with the bad guys.
Trudy’s walkie talkie that only works to talk to St. Nick comes in very handy, as do icicles, reindeer, and a large array of chimneys.
Writers Pat Case and Josh Miller cut their teeth on two hugely successful Sonic the Hedgehog films and they’re clearly having a blast letting out their more adult humor in a non-stop barrage of profane one-liners. When Gertrude referred to wannabe superstar Morgan as “Jean Claude Van-Dipshit”, I knew I was in good hands.
Director Tommy Workola brings a very sure hand to material that just shouldn’t work as well as it does.
It’s relentless, gory, and flat out funny for adults. The closing scene even manages to generate some real holiday heart and emotion.
Look. This thing shouldn’t work at all, but in the sure hands of a game cast and crew, VIOLENT NIGHT hits it out of the park.
With a giant, blood-soaked sledgehammer.
Ho Ho Holy Crap, I laughed all the way to a solid B.
Move over “It’s a Wonderful Life”, we’ve got a new movie on the annual Christmas viewing list.