In Tommy Wirkola’s hilarious B-movie, David Harbor (“Stranger Things”) fights off bad guys as a dashing Santa Claus. At the cinema.
For decades, Christmas cinema in all its sugary goodness has thrilled subversive minds that scratched the genre by inverting its own trappings. Accordingly, “Silent Night” becomes “Violent Night”—at least in the current film by Norwegian Tommy Wirkola, where Santa dies at the outset in a Bristol pub, fighting his bitterness over the festival’s high, intoxicating desecration. When, thanks to a magic sled, he lands a little later on the ultra-wealthy Lightstone family’s estate in wintry Connecticut (and ransacks their liquor bar), he has no idea that his entire Christmas manhood will soon be challenged.
Heavily armed crooks led by Jimmy Martinez (John Leguizamo) stage an invasion to loot the vault containing $300 million. He takes members of a deeply dysfunctional family, including mother Gertrude (happy reunion: Beverly D’Angelo) and little Trudy (Leah Brady), hostage. Wirkola, who before making the leap to Hollywood in his home country with his two films “Dead Snow” (Part Two is a masterpiece!) proved he’s quite capable of recreating B-movie fun, sets up his moody “Violent Night” as a semi-sophisticated blockbuster that knows exactly what its audience wants every minute.
Die hard, home alone. Perfect cast: David Harbor (“Stranger Things”) as Santa Claus, who at first only reluctantly comes to the aid of those in distress, but in the course of the ensuing sniping changes from a brooding whiner to an inventive lone fighter. While he, a la Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films, wields poinsettias as deadly projectiles and sucks on candy canes so he can shove them down the throats of their opponents, young Leia turns out to be Kevin’s revenge from Home Alone’: she takes down the bad guys with an arsenal of traps. Wirkola quotes Wirkola These classics are as self-assured as they are sassy, giving “Violent Night” a slight lightness, though they also transcend themes: on the one hand, the script presents itself as an all-out assault against holiday cheer and a stress-relieving valve for all who afflict it, But it also dives into emotion.Finally I can’t help but summon the (real) spirit of Christmas.
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