REVIEW: Violent Night
From the moment you saw the trailer, you knew exactly what you were going to get with Violent Night. The biggest selling points had to be the high concept and lead performer David Harbour. These days, he elevates just about everything he is in, so this already made it worth seeing.
The film opened to mixed reviews and reasonable box office, but Universal Home Entertainment seemed to release this in a rush, as a Blu-ray only release even as work begins on a sequel.
The Home Alone/Die Hard riffs are hard to miss but the inventiveness of the antics are amusing as a band of thieves led by John Leguizamo invade a Greenwich mansion to rob them blind. The bickering family spans three generations and most fill the stock character types one expects from such fare. It helps to have Beverly D’Angelo as the shrewish matriarch, able to go toe to toe with Leguizamo.
The most predictable yet heartwarming thread is the jaded Santa in need of a child’s blind faith in him to give him the strength to save everyone on Christmas Eve. The exchanges between Santa and Trudy (Leah Brady) are revealing and natural, well worth the tub of popcorn the film demands.
What’s unexpected is the violent backstory that shows Santa was once Nikamund the Red, a bloodthirsty Viking over a millennium ago and somehow he and his enchanted sledgehammer became jolly old Saint Nick. He keeps telling us how he doesn’t understand how Christmas magic works, but as long as someone (and the audience) believes, it’ll all work out.
I wish writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller made the characters less types and far less predictable, a weakness. Director Tommy Wirkola choreographs the action nicely and keeps things moving so the 112 minute feature rarely flags.
The 1080p digital transfer is perfectly satisfactory if unspectacular. It makes for perfectly good home viewer, aided by a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack.
The Special Features include Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:02), seven missing scenes plus a handful of extended scenes; Quarrelin’ Kringle (3:45), a look at Harbour Santa’s Helpers: The Making of Violent Night (5:56); Deck the Halls with Brawls (6:04); and Audio Commentary featuring Wirkola, Producer Guy Danella, Casey, and Miller gather to discuss the film.