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  • Jeff Beck

Violent Night: A Delightful Dose of Holiday Mayhem (4K/Blu-ray)


The Film:


There are plenty of Christmas films out there all about spreading good cheer, spending time with family, and having good will towards all, told with the typical solemnity of the holiday season, but every once in a while, we get a Christmas film that's a little more... extreme. Some that may come right to mind are "Gremlins," "Krampus," or the oft-debated "Die Hard," generally films that take place during or largely involve the holiday and which tend to be more gruesome or outright violent than your typical seasonal flick. Last year's "Violent Night" is very much a continuation of this tradition, but be forewarned, as the title alludes to, it might also be the most intense example of it yet.


The film begins on Christmas Eve, with Santa Claus (David Harbour) himself getting drunk at a bar and lamenting about how kids have gotten really greedy over the years. He feels it may be time to call it quits, but still continues on with his deliveries to the good boys & girls later that evening. Meanwhile, a holiday gathering is taking place at the mansion of wealthy business owner Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D'Angelo) that includes her son Jason (Alex Hassell), his estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder), their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), and various other family members.


In a rather unexpected turn of events, the gathering is taken over by mercenaries led by "Mr. Scrooge" (John Leguizamo), who is in search of a $300 million stash that has recently been delivered to the mansion. Unfortunately for them, Santa just happens to be visiting at the same time, and after being discovered, quickly finds himself entangled in the situation. With his reindeer having fled, Santa decides to take matters into his own hands in an attempt to rescue the hostages, turning his usual peaceful evening of delivering presents into a rather "violent night."


As mentioned a few times already, this is a very violent flick, one that will obviously not be to everyone's tastes, and indeed, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to find out that that very element is what caused its less-than-stellar critical consensus. However, for those who don't mind a fair amount of blood & mayhem, "Violent Night" ends up being a strangely amusing and entertaining flick. It's hardly the kind of film that's going to get praised for its writing, but it manages to set up a foundation that works just well enough to serve its purpose, that is, giving Santa Claus a reason to take down a bunch of bad guys in delightfully gory fashion, all while spreading an important message about the Christmas spirit.


That's pretty much the film in a nutshell, with David Harbour making a rather charming Santa, and John Leguizamo doing a fine job as the film's main antagonist. You're either going to go into it ready to have fun as Santa tears his way through several mercenaries in a desperate effort to save little Trudy (who's on the nice list, naturally) and her family, or you're going to be turned off by the violence, or the depiction of Santa Claus (slightly reminiscent of the complaints against "Silent Night, Deadly Night"), or even just the silly premise. Personally, I went in thinking one thing, and came out surprised at how amusing and unexpectedly sweet it was. If you're open to its unorthodox concept, you might just find yourself feeling the exact same way.


Video/Audio:


This edition of "Violent Night" includes the film on 4K (UHD HDR10) and Blu-ray (1080p High Definition) in 2.39:1 transfers of outstanding quality. The picture looks absolutely wonderful, remaining sharp & clear throughout, even in the film's darkest scenes. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos/7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are marvelous, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in excellent quality. Overall, there's not a single complaint to be had in either department.


Special Features:


Commentary with Director Tommy Wirkola, Producer Guy Danella, and Writers Pat Casey & Josh Miller

Quarrelin' Kringle (4 Minutes)

Santa's Helpers: The Making of Violent Night (6 Minutes)

Deck the Halls with Brawls (6 Minutes)

Deleted and Extended Scenes (19 Minutes)


This is a pretty good collection of extras that gives you an intriguing look behind the scenes at the making of the film via an informative commentary with the filmmakers, as well as featurettes that explore the fights.


Conclusion:


"Violent Night" may turn away some viewers with its gory violence or its unusual premise, but if you're open to the concept, you just might find yourself enjoying the wild & entertaining ride as Santa takes on the bad guys and reinvigorates a bit of Christmas cheer.


Score: 3.5/5


Available on 4K/Blu-ray starting tomorrow.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.



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