Wednesday, December 21, 2022

'Tis the Season - Violent Night (2022)


Movie Name/Year: Violent Night (2022)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Length:  1h 41min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 87North, Universal Pictures
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Actors: David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo, Leah Brady, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson, Brendan Fletcher, Alexis Louder, Alex Hassell, Alexander Elliot, Mike Dopud, André Eriksen, Mitra Suril, Can Aydin, Phong Giang, Finn McCager Higgins, Rawleigh Clements-Willis, Stephanie Sy
IMDb Blurb: When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).

Selina’s Point of View:
I was down for Violent Night from the jump.
Right off the bat, the stage was set for something outstanding. The first scene is so hopeless and funny that it properly sets us up for the strange and miraculous everything that would follow. There’s never a moment that feels out of place, toned down, or overly sanitized.
Not only do I think director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, What Happened to Monday, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) is to thank for that, but his editorial staff. The editing is so tight that nothing feels like ‘too much’.
David Harbour (Stranger Things, Black Widow, No Sudden Move) was his charismatic, bad-ass self while John Leguizamo (Encanto, The Menu, Waiting for Godot) killed it as the primary antagonist. When they finally meet in the film, it’s absolutely electric. Little Miss Leah Brady (The Umbrella Academy, Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls, Relax I’m From the Future) also held her own as the smart kid up against big-bad invaders. She took a little slice of Home Alone (1990) and made it her own. For a child’s performance to be flawless, that’s something special.

There is nothing I could possibly say against Violent Night. It was everything I want a holiday horror film to be. Not only did it have some of the most brutal kills from any Christmas horror flick I’ve ever seen, but it also had the same important holiday lessons without the obnoxious Hallmark tropes.
I would recommend this to just about anyone who’s down for something different, especially since it still has a Christmas spirit in the end.
I’m glad that we are leaving off this year with Violent Night. It’s the last movie before our Christmas break and there’s a lesson wrapped up in all the blood and puns. An important one.
For the past few years, Christmas hasn’t really felt like Christmas. It’s like the magic has gone out of December. There’s no question as to why. We’re all so beaten up by the times, it’s like none of us have the energy to care anymore.
We’ve gone several rounds with our very own apocalypse scenarios. It’s important to remember that after all that it’s ok to be sad, angry, and tired. It’s ok to feel lost in this absolute mess of a world we’re in. The important thing to remember is that there’s always hope – and something to believe in. Whether it’s belief in a religion, in yourself, a loved one, or the potential for something better, it is important to hold on to that.
Life is a cycle, and things will get better.
Happy Holidays.

Cat’s Point of View:
As time ticks down, and Christmas is imminent, things just seem to get crazier and crazier. What better reason than to get comfy and watch something highly entertaining and also steeped in the season. Violent Night captured my attention and had me chomping at the bit to watch it the moment I saw its trailer. This was the perfect selection to add some much-needed escapism and laughter to my week.
Let me tell you, Violent Night is all the things I hoped it would be – and then some.
I’ve seen Violent Night compared a lot to a blend of John Wick (2014) and Home Alone (1990). I have to admit that the mash-up isn’t that far off. If you haven’t seen any of the myriad articles or videos exploring the catastrophic damage Kevin’s traps would inflict in the real world, Violent Night gives a small, yet gruesome, taste of a few more accurate scenarios.
Seriously, though, I adore the concept of Santa Claus mopping up bad guys in the name of defending a little girl on his Nice List and her family – dysfunctional though they may be. David Harbour (Hellboy, Black Widow, Stranger Things) was also perfect for this role. I was absolutely giddy when I saw he was attached to this movie. He absolutely nailed the transformation from apathetic to ass-kicking that Santa experienced.
You really couldn’t go wrong with any of this cast, though.

Leah Brady (Hunting- A Documentary, The Umbrella Academy, Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls) is a fresh face in Hollywood and I’m excited to see what she does in the future. She embodied the hopeful naiveté that we all hope children hold on to as long as they can, and yet balanced with cleverness and a sense of adventure. It was also really interesting to see John Leguizamo (Critical Thinking, Encanto, The Menu) as the lead villain in Violent Night. It’s far removed from his usual roles, but he really sold it. He’s often underrated and absolutely deserves more spotlight.
Further, seeded within the entire production, there are nods to Christmas movies from the past – crossing several genres. One such nod had to be the casting of Beverly D’Angelo (The House Bunny, The Good House, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as the Lightstone family matriarch. She played Ellen Griswold in nearly all of the National Lampoon movies featuring that hilarious family – of which one of my favorites is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989). It might be a stretch, but there are more concrete Easter Eggs sprinkled throughout than the 6-degrees-of-Christmas-Movies I attempted.

Violent Night had some really spectacular, if rather brutal, fight scenes. The action choreography here was top-notch. All of the elements of a great action movie were present and elevated by the comedic undertone. The laughter, while occasionally dark humor, took just enough of the edge off so that the situation on-screen didn’t get too intense.
If you love the action genre, don’t mind a little blood, and want it whipped up with the magic of the Christmas season, Violent Night is absolutely worth the price of a ticket or rental. Of course, that is if you want to see it before Christmas. I wouldn’t mind watching it afterward, either. (I’ve already watched it twice and I just rented it last night.)
Whether Violent Night is your cup of tea or not, we’re wishing you and yours a wonderful and safe Holiday Season. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 55%
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 7.0/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
P.S. – There is a short additional mid-credits scene.
Movie Trailer:

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