Review: Violent Night (Spoiler Free)

First of all, I had every intention of watching and reviewing Cocaine Bear, but tornados and idiots were running amok in North Texas the other night. My wife and I planned to see it today instead, but a certain someone had an impromptu “gig” in another city at the last minute. I love how ignorant assholes call DUI court a “gig”. You’re not fooling anyone, your royal poon-ness.

Instead, I purchased and downloaded a copy of Violent Night. Yes, I know I’m a few months behind the power curve on this one, but I had no interest in seeing it in the theater. Luckily, I was right. No need to see this one on the big screen. If you’ve seen one Die Hard clone, you’ve seen them all.

I’m not saying this is a bad film. Not by a long shot! I enjoyed every second of it. Here is the synopsis:

When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas). Here’s the trailer:

That’s all you need to know. Nothing deep. Nothing new. What you do need to know is that you get some brilliant performances from protagonist and Santa Claus David Harbour and villain John Leguizamo. He’s no Hans Gruber, but he’s pretty damn good.

I think that is exactly why I didn’t get in a big hurry to see this film during the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s been said, but I think this was loosely based on the fake holiday movie advertised in Bill Murray’s Scrooged from 1988. If that’s the case, kudos on the nostalgic callback!

This film can be placed within several genres such as dark comedy and action, but I prefer to call it a Christmas movie just like Die Hard. As a matter of fact, there were several references to Die Hard leading me to believe the makers of this film were very self-aware of the potential comparisons. I’m cool with that. Die Hard is a classic and I felt they were paying enough respect to the source material to make it acceptable. What I hate is when films directly rip off their influences and never announce it, preying off the classic film ignorance of modern-day audiences. It makes us older movie junkies feel sticky and used when you take us for granted like that. For reference, check out the currently running second season of Disney’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch. They’ve been ripping off all their other properties all season long like Alien, Pirates of the Carribean, and Indiana Jones. I guess they don’t think we notice. Either that, or they just don’t care. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Violent Night has easily found its place in my holiday rotation schedule. The jokes were laugh out loud funny and the violence was over the top. Not so much Kill Bill or Terrifier 2, but nearing John Wick levels at times. The cast did a brilliant job playing a fake family who hate each other, bordering on what I imagine the Trumps are like. No love there whatsoever. Only lust for money and power. When Santa Claus wasn’t kicking ass, I was rooting for the terrorists to kill each of these rich bastards in turn.

The masters of the Facebook review culture either gave this film extreme high marks or shat all over it during its initial release run around Christmas time. This is mostly because they’re a bunch of extremists who can’t comprehend how to dissect and judge complex media. There are many subtle, gray levels between love and hate, and they can’t seem to grasp it. Attention whores love polarization. Extreme titles give them clicks, views, and likes. I’m going to be the one who leads you somewhere in the middle of this film’s grade.

There’s nothing I can say to spoil this film that you don’t already know from the trailer. Santa is a drunk who hates his life. Terrorists take a rich family hostage. Santa kicks ass. The end. It’s John McClane in a Santa suit. It actually begs the question: is this a Die-Hard spoof, or has every action film since Die Hard intentionally tried to rip off its success?

If you hate traditional Christmas movies and tend to lean more toward films like Die Hard, Krampus, or even Batman Returns, then this film is totally for you. There are lots of holes in the plot which deliver well timed WTF reactions but check your brain at the door. Grab a drink or a special gummy and relax. Laugh at the jokes, applaud at the violence, and know they’re already planning a sequel. They’re going to milk this thing for all it’s worth. Because Hollywood and hate watching go hand in hand. For reference, check out Velma.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Ok, I just rewatched the trailer and got a warm, fuzzy feeling

4 out of 5 stars. Just for the creative, hilarious violence.


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