A Christmas movie does not necessarily have to be put on the “nice” list. There are many stories revolving around the holidays that don’t always leave us with warm fuzzy feelings inside. Some examples are “Bad Santa”, “Die Hard” and, if you are a horror fan, the cult classic “Silent Night, Deadly Night”. Today we have a new entry into that special category of films, “Violent Night”. David Harbour stars as Santa Claus who must save a family from an armed and deadly group of robbers.
Here’s the lowdown on “Violent Night”. There are two fantastic sequences in the movie that justify seeing it. Both scenes are so well written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller that any director could probably have pulled it off. The scenes are funny, exciting and have enough over the top violence in them that audiences will be talking about them for years. Outside of that, most of the movie feels like you are getting a lump of coal in your stocking when you were expecting a great toy because you’ve been good all year.
The fault falls directly on the shoulders of director Tommy Wirkola. The only previous film you might know of his was “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” from 2013. It wound up on my top 10 worst 3D movies of that year coming in at #7. Looking back, this is what I wrote about that film: “The story was a great idea, and the 3D effects were very good, but director Tommy Wirokla’s execution was so poor that it ended up on the worst list.” It has been almost a decade since and he has not improved as a director at all.
There are a few more laughs to be had throughout the script, but there is a sweet sentimental side too. When we first meet Santa, he is drinking at a bar, almost dreading the hectic night of delivering toys. His view on children, even those who are his Nice list has certainly dimmed over the years. However, while Santa is dealing with the mercenaries, he is also in radio contact with Trudy (Leah Brady), the little girl of the family. Those moments begin to soften his heart and ours as well.
“Violent Night” could have gone on to be a great dark Christmas classic, but it never finds its rhythm. If someone else was at the helm it certainly could have been memorable. Instead, all we wind up with is a couple of sequences that are sure to get a ton of YouTube views one day, with a few possible memes thrown in too.