Violent night

Violent night
Original title:Violent night
Director:Tommy Wirkola
Running time:112 minutes
Release date:02 december 2022
On Christmas Eve, when a group of mercenaries break into a wealthy family's property and take them hostage, they face an unexpected adversary: Santa Claus is in the house and he's going to show them that good old St. Nicholas has more than one trick up his sleeve.

Mulder's Review

Like every year, we have the right this year to several films on this day so appreciated by children Christmas. Whether it's an inspired musical, Spirited, romantic comedies and other films for a very large audience that are much less successful and original in theaters, on television and on streaming platforms, Christmas never ceases to inspire many films but most of them are cruelly lacking in piquancy and effectiveness. 

We would almost regret not being able to discover films as timeless as ultra effective as Gremlins (1984) by Joe Dante, Krampus (2015) by Michael Dougherty. Yet the new film by Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow (2009), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), What Happened to Monday and The Trip (2021)) turns out to be a perfectly mastered mix between the die hard action movie with its disillusioned hero who will find himself thwarting a hostage situation in a unique location, the Christmas movie featuring a Santa Claus and finally the horror movie in which a psychopathic killer uses everything he has at hand to kill a maximum of people and especially violently. 

It is certain that Violent Night is intended for an adult audience as some scenes have nothing to envy to current gore films. In spite of the numerous borrowings from films that we can easily recognize and the numerous titles of films mentioned, Violent Night works wonderfully thanks to the presence of actor David Harbour in the lead role. The screenwriting duo Pat Casey and Josh Miller (Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 (2020, 2022)) deliver here a story as gripping as effective that doesn't hesitate to pay homage to several movies but also to portray a disillusioned and alcoholic Santa Claus who seems to be tired of delivering gifts to children with irreproachable behaviors and working in an era in which the magic of Christmas seems to have disappeared.
From the very first scene of the film, we discover the real Santa Claus played by David Harbour (Stranger Things series and movies like The Equalizer (2014), Suicide Squad (2016), Hellboy (2019), Black Widow (2021)) at a bar and who after many drinks seems to have no more strength to continue to distribute toys on Christmas Eve. After more than a century and notably a violent past in which he was a Viking thirsty for conquests. However, while he was distributing a little girl's toy to a wealthy family living in a huge house, he was confronted by a band of mercenaries who had come to steal 300 million dollars. Leading the mercenaries is Scrooge (John Leguizamo) who also seems to have a score to settle with the Christmas party.

It's interesting to see how Violent Night pays homage to the first two films of the Die Hard saga, whether it's by its main character or by the horde of mercenaries on snowmobiles, a simple copy of those seen in Die Hard 2. Violent Night also seems to surf on the Christmas movies representing a traditional family but with a tendency to show that the wealthy class allows itself everything. Like this Lightstone family marked by the authority of its matriarch Gerdtrude, the film seems to want to settle its accounts. The result is a film that mixes black comedy, action and horror films with an undeniable know-how. Far from the clichés conveyed on Santa Claus, the one described in this film is a character who does not hesitate to punish the bad guys with violence and an art of turning ordinary objects into a real weapon to kill.

The fantastic elements related to Santa Claus are well present here, starting with his flying sleigh, his magic bag containing an infinite number of gifts, but also gadgets that allow him to know, like this parchment, if the people on his path are good or bad.  However, the scriptwriters seem to take a malicious pleasure in diverting the too smooth scenes of these Christmas movies to turn to an action movie of which the production company 87North Productions has an undeniable know-how as shown in the movies Nobody (2021), Kate (2021) and Bullet train (2022). The inventiveness and the efficiency of the action scenes are an undeniable added value to this film which imposes itself as soon as it is discovered as a film destined to become just as cult as Gremlins and Krampus.

Violent Night 
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Written by Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Produced by Kelly McCormick, David Leitch, Guy Danella
Starring David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Edi Patterson, Beverly D'Angelo
Cinematography : Matthew Weston
Edited by Jim Page
Music by Dominic Lewis
Production Company : 87North Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates : October 7, 2022 (NYCC), November 30, 2022 (France), December 2, 2022 (United States)
Running time : 112 minutes

Seen on November 30, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 5 place A18

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