Nature versus nurture? Does pineapple belong on pizza? Is Die Hard an Xmas movie? These are just a few of the "great" debates that your ol' pal Cinemavenger could end once and for fucking all - if anyone would just ask.
The answers are, respectively, "Both," "Only if you're a sailor suffering from acute scurvy," and "Absolutely fucking not; although it is Xmas adjacent." The new release, Violent Night, however, is an actual Die Hard (style) Xmas movie. Seriously, the entire pitch must've been, "What if John McClane was Santa Clause and Nakatomi Plaza was a rich family's estate?"
The movie opens with Santa (David "Overnight Success After Decades Trying" Harbour) of Stranger Things fame tossing back some booze in a bar while on a break during his annual Xmas Eve world tour. Old Saint Nick seems to have lost some of his Xmas spirit, but after delivering the movie's first puke joke, he gets back in the saddle (well, sleigh) to deliver more presents. That and shotgun a beer. And piss on Washington D.C. And say "fuck" and various other swear words more than any Santa since Billy Bob Thornton's.
Santa arrives at stately Lightstone Manor right when a group of bad guys with Xmas code names are taking everyone hostage so that they can steal $300M in cash that's stashed somewhere on the grounds. The C-Team of thieves is led by Mr. Scrooge (John "Daddy Long" Leguizamo), and he is one angry motherelfer. Luckily, his crew is way dumber than Hans Gruber's, so Santa has next to no trouble picking them off in increasingly brutal and gory ways.
We're talking heads on fire, eyes gouged out, smashed skulls, impalements, and much, much more. Violent Night does not skimp on the comedic ultraviolence Huzzah! And yet, while it's making the most of its hard R rating in the bloody mayhem department, it skimps criminally on the nudity that R rating allows. There's not a single tit, let alone a pair, on display. Bah! Humbug!!
Violent Night may be inspired by Die Hard, but it borrows from two other Xmas adjacent movies more than that classic. Santa's Al-on-the-other-end-of-the-walkie-talkie is a little girl named Trudy (Leah "Cindy" Brady) who gets up to some Home Alone shenanigans. And multiple references get cribbed directly from the undervalued Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
Violent Night grabs you by the sugar plums and never lets go.
December 9, 2022