Joy to the world and peace and goodwill to all men (and women) unless of course you upset Santa and then well head for the hills and pay the consequences. Violent Night opens in cinemas on December 2nd and thanks to a few little spoiler special friends I managed to get a look at the movie underneath the Christmas tree, well at home anyway the Christmas tree is still in the loft and maybe it will stay there this year. Violent Night is a great take on a Christmas tale, this Christmas/horror combines elements of the warmth and cheeriness of yuletide with something that resembles Santa Claus the Movie and Home Alone meet Bad Santa and Die Hard. (yes, now your interested aren’t you mention Die Hard and everyone is in). Basic plot, well where do I start, A family gets set upon at Christmas by a group of mercenaries and when Santa visits their house on Christmas Eve, he becomes embroiled in the mayhem which soon becomes very personal and also extremely messy and bloody.
Director Tommy Wirkola, (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) delivers an instant Xmas classic for those seeking the gory, violent, and gruesome alternatives to the norm as in safe Christmas classics as It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street or even Elf. Violent Night is a fantastically irreverent romp, which takes full advantage of having An R rating, so it’s a Christmas tale with a punch or a stab, slash or at times even worse. So, it is certainly not one for the kiddywinks (unless you want them to stay awake till Easter that is). It’s a Santa slasher that is so clever and very entertaining in a somewhat unsettling way once you get used to Santa kicking butt. Santa is the good guy (of course), the film shows us that if you are on the naughty list you could end up getting more than just cinders, soot, or coal in your stocking.
Actor David Harbour who is probably best known for Stranger Things, portrays perfectly a far from ideal sledgehammer wielding Saint Nick, who whilst slipping into people’s houses to drop off presents devours the cookies but avoids the milk in favour of something stronger and whilst distributing the gifts at the same time steals alcohol from cupboards. But even though he is basically an uncouth slob he still has some standards and has a special place in his heart and on his list for nice children whilst having distain for those who are naughty (and that is not just kids). We first encounter a well-oiled Santa in a pub, where he tells a Mall Santa that he is on a break and how disenchanted he is with the job, mainly because of ungrateful brats who just demand the latest video games. He drinks himself into a state of numbness and forgets all the reasons why he is fed up with being Santa boards his sleigh and heads off into the winter night. Santa arrives at the Lightstone mansion where most of the movie’s action is played out and is where the Lighthouse family reside.
A little while after Santa arrives a group of mercenaries led by a Mr Scrooge attack the building and take the family hostage, the reason for this is that they intend to break into the family vault where 300 million dollars are kept. What ensues is a chaotic, demented and highly entertaining combination of events, that as I have already said resemble the storylines of Home Alone, Santa Claus the Movie, Die Hard, Bad Santa and the antics of the superhero Thor.
Santa utiliZing an array of weapons that include guns, a skating boot, a sharpened candy cane, an icicle and even a Christmas tree star (that has got to hurt). But the most devasting weapon must be the sledgehammer which Santa throws around and this is explained with flashbacks to what he did before becoming the big guy in the red suit. The action is relentless and violent but is also superbly balanced with hilarious moments of comedic genius. But saying that this is a slasher or solely a horror/comedy is not entirely true as the story also has to it some softer moments, and amongst all the havoc and killing there is a story that glints through at times.
At the centre of everything we see the bond that is developing between Santa and the young girl Trudy whose steadfast belief in Santa Claus gives him renewed belief himself. And inspires him to stand up to the mercenaries.
The score for the movie works so well and is written by the uber talented composer Dominic Lewis, who’s inclusion of festive favourites that are woven into the fabric of the dramatic soundtrack also have to them a real comedic hit. Its is a score that underlines and accentuates every key moment within the movie and acts as a marvelously thematic accompaniment to the mayhem, the chaos, the violence, and the melancholier moments of the film.
It’s not a full-on Christmas happy holidays soundtrack although it does have its moments even if these are short lived, the soundtrack is a grandiose work, strings, brass, and percussion being the order of the day as they are the prominent instrumentation here. The soundtrack includes some vocals but wait do not be put off as these are few and far between and are arranged by the composer in keeping with the darker moods that are reflected within the film and its score. I really love the song Santa Claus has had enough of Christmas which has a Beach Boy type vibe, but although it has a jolly sound and an upbeat tempo listen to the lyrics. With lines like “Don’t let his Reindeer Cause you Pain Dear” and “We don’t want to be on that list Santa Claus is Gonna get Unhappy” well yes, see what I mean. And with track titles such as Seven Snipers Sniping, Seasons Beatings, Feliz-Navi Dead (see what they did there) and Snow Way Out.
It’s a fun filled fest of Christmas cheer and killings. With a score that in a word is genius because it is Incredibly cleverly put together. Highly recommended. Available now on digital platforms.