Ho, Hoo, Hoooow boring. Every year, century after century, Santa Claus delivers gifts to ungrateful brats who have long lost their emotional connection to the spirit of Christmas. Really frustrating. But as if that weren’t enough, Santa’s path leads to the house of the super-rich Lightstone family. Here the Silent Night suddenly turns into a VIOLENT NIGHT.
And that is now available for us on Blu-Ray and DVD. Find out now whether the disc belongs in your film collection even now when spring starts.
THE SHORT STORY ABOUT HOW IT BECOMES A VIOLENT NIGHT
As it is. Some people don’t know what they should do with all their money. The Lightstone family, for example, belongs to that group of people. In the huge family estate, servants take care of the Christmas spirit.
They decorate the house and bake sweets. Despite the beautiful decoration, however, there may not be a real Christmas spirit. Because nothing here really comes from the heart. Even not the family gathering at Christmas.
JASON LIGHTSTONE (ALEX HASSELL)
First, there’s the son, Jason. He regards his cranky, selfish family as more than strange. Besides, he has also lost his own small family, his wife Linda, and his daughter Trudy.
But little Trudy should see her grandmother during the holidays. Of course, Jason wants that the girl experiences the spirit of Christmas with the complete family. Hence, he, Trudy, and Linda drive to the Lightstone estate together. And, Linda accompanies Jason rather reluctantly.
Before his role as the naive scion of the Lightstone family in VIOLENT NIGHT, Alex Hassel was best known for his TV appearances. Moreover, through his roles in Cold Mountain and Suburbicon, he showed a good sense of taking part in special films.
LINDA MATTHEWS (ALEXIS LOUDER)
Linda is very efficient, demanding, and intelligent, says Alexis Louder. She wants to be a great mother to her daughter, Trudy. Besides, she wants her family to be together.
So, when the silent night suddenly turns into a VIOLENT NIGHT, Linda learns to master completely new challenges. But, of course, first and foremost, she must protect her daughter from the bad guys. The actress Alexis Louder, who stars as Linda Matthews, already played in The Tomorrow War and Copshop.
TRUDY (LEAH BRADY)
Trudy is everything the Lightstone’s are not. She is warm, humble, and charming. Moreover, she’s just plain adorable. She believes in the good. And she believes in the spirit of Christmas. That’s why she firmly believes in Santa Claus.
Thus, it’s so cool that, as a little pre-Christmas gift, Jason gives her a magic walkie-talkie that lets her speak directly to Santa Claus. Of course, Trudy instantly expresses a very sweet wish. Christmas is full of magic. Therefore, Trudy actually reaches Santa Claus. So, she helps him with her tricks and via the radio to turn the VIOLENT NIGHT into a peaceful Christmas night again.
The role of Trudy in VIOLENT NIGHT is Leah Brady’s debut role. No wonder, because the mega talent is just 8 years old.
Producer Kelly McCormick says of Leah:
She fit the role perfectly. Leah is from Canada and went through the normal process of auditioning for Trudy. She was an instant favorite for Tommy, David, and me. Because Leah has all the heart and innocence the character needed. Besides, she’s also a very keen observer. And that combination at the age of eight is pretty incredible.
BERT (ALEXANDER ELLIOT)
Very different from Trudy is Jason’s nephew, Bert. Instead of enjoying the spirit of Christmas, Bert is busy posting reels and stories to social media with his smartphone. Whereby… VIOLENT NIGHT shows that this can sometimes even make sense.
Alexander Elliot is Canadian, as is Leah Brady. In 2019, he starred in Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story. In addition, we can see the boy from Toronto in the series The Hardy Boys since 2020.
ALVA AND MORGAN LIGHTSTONE (EDI PATTERSON & CAM GIGANDET)
How should Bert know it any better? Because his parents Alva and Morgan set an example of pure superficiality for their son. Alva only cares about herself. If push came to shove, would she even sacrifice her own brother? The B-movie actor Morgan isn’t less superficial than Alva. He thinks he’s a superstar, but he’s just a little prat.
Before VIOLENT NIGHT, Edi Patterson proved her sense of humor in many comedies. These include A Thousand Words or Knives Out. Cam Gigandet we saw in Twilight, The Unborn, Burlesque, or The Magnificent Seven.
GERTRUDE LIGHTSTONE (BEVERLY D‘ANGELO)
It seems that Alva and Morgen, as well as Jason, are not embarrassed to depend on Gertrude’s goodwill. Not only because of her age the matriarch, who heads the Lightstone empire, doesn’t show any emotion. She is very cold. Furthermore, she thinks she is above all things and people.
Beverly D’Angelo plays the head of the family. Already in 1989, she gave us a nice Christmas present with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Several comedies with her long-term film partner Chevy Chase followed.
MR. SCROOGE (JOHN LEGUIZAMO)
Of course, to turn the Silent Night into a Violent Night, you need a villain. Based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, he calls himself Scrooge. Like Gertrude, he believes he has everything under control. However, the villain has bad luck. Because Santa Claus is coming to town.
We know John Leguizamo, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, from more than 100 productions since 1985. Sometimes he plays the bad guy, like in Die Hard 2 with Bruce Willis or Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford. Then John played the good guy, like in Land of the Dead or the John Wick films.
Both sides suit him very well. Besides, he is best known for his role as Luigi in Super Mario Bros. In the Ice Age animated films, he lent his distinctive voice to the funny Sid for many years. Last but not least, in Disney’s Encanto he voiced the quirky but lovable Bruno Madrigal.
SANTA CLAUS (DAVID HARBOUR)
As always, Santa just wants to deliver his presents. Ok, shortly before getting a burnout, he stops here and there to have a drink. It can also be a biscuit or candy cane. Howsoever, this Santa doesn’t wear a red coat but a cool dark red leather jacket.
What Santa doesn’t feel like doing is violence. After all, he’s not the youngest anymore. But when he meets sweet Trudy, he can’t just leave her to her fate. Thus, he remembers his past, which wasn’t as peaceful as we might imagine when we think of Santa Claus.
Howsoever, never before we saw a funnier Santa Claus than in Violent Night. David Harbor literally melted into his role. It seems that he particularly likes that unique blend of action and comedy. So, we could see him as a funny Russian in Black Widow and in 2019’s Hellboy. David also starred in Suicide Squad, Quantum of Solace, Brokeback Mountain, and many other big productions.
THE MAKER: TOMMY WIRKOLA
If anyone really knows what it means to create a special winter magic, it must be a Norwegian. And so none other than Tommy Wirkola is responsible for VIOLENT NIGHT.
With the Nazi zombie horror comedy Dead Snow, he already proved in 2009 that he can bring wacky action to an enchanting winter landscape. And even then, he showed a very good sense of underlying the bizarre action scenes with the most inappropriate – and, therefore, ultra-funny – music.
SILENT NIGHT, VIOLENT NIGHT – THE SCORE
The VIOLENT NIGHT score is brilliant. Because, in the typical Wirkola style, the most famous Christmas hits merge with the story in such a paradoxical way that they fuel the already great humor many times over. Just funny.
THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS AT EASTERN?
The question that arises is whether a Christmas film at the beginning of spring can create the same mood as in December. But if we take our time, turn off the lights and light some scented candles, put a good wine on the table, and sit back, Violent Night still can take us back to the magic time in which we were looking forward to the holidays and gifts.
Children experience this magic with amazed and open eyes every time, and they do it with an open mind. So, why do we have to lose that magic as adults in general? Why the magical Christmas bell isn’t ringing the entire year?
In the film, Santa is really angry that we forgot the actual spirit of Christmas. He is also sad that Children stopped to believe in him and their wish lists are all about commercial things.
Worse, their claims are gigantic, and often they only revolve around mere money. So, where has the spirit of Christmas gone? Where have the love, warmth, modesty, and contemplation gone? Even Santa doesn’t believe in it anymore. Until he meets Trudy. Since the sweet 7-year-old has always been very brave the entire year, she is on Santa’s NICE list.
Trudy shows Santa that there are still people with hearts and – even better – a lot of love in them. Through her warmth and honesty, she convinces Santa to move on and help her family. Moreover, she helps Santa to believe in himself and humanity.
VIOLENT NIGHT MEETS THE TOP 3 OF X-MAS MOVIES
Anyone who expects a vile action spectacle from VIOLENT NIGHT is completely wrong. Because the film offers several layers.
THE COMEDY A LA HOME ALONE
VIOLENT NIGHT primarily impresses with its humor. At one moment, it’s a very dark one and a bit evil. Also, crazy splatter elements are not missing. However, in the next moment, these elements are replaced by a childishly naïve sense of humor.
Especially those moments in which the little yet very clever Trudy has to put up a fight remind us of Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) mean traps in the Home Alone movies.
Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back?
Of course, VIOLENT NIGHT is aimed more at an adult audience. Therefore, the filmmakers topped the nasty traps that aroused our glee in 1990’s Home Alone many times over.
THE WARMTH AND PROFOUND A LA IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the ultimate Christmas film, James Stewart, in his role as George Bailey, had doubts about the meaning of his existence. Luckily, Clarence, the cheerful angel of Second Class, appears to him. This shows George what the world would be like without him.
Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel just got his wings.
But when even Santa begins to doubt the world, it doesn’t need an angel, but a smart kid, such as sweet Trudy, a.k.a. Leah Brady. With her game, the 8-year-old speaks to our conscience and automatically brings tears to our eyes. Her warmth is impressive and the most beautiful gift we could ask for this Christmas.
In VIOLENT NIGHT, Leah really speaks to each of us with her shining personality. She makes us cry one second and laugh again the next. Also, Trudy shows us how important it is to keep our faith. Her playing creates incredible energy. If we open our hearts, we can take this energy out of the cinema and, thus, into the world. So, let’s share it with others.
HO, HO, HO – THE ACTION A LA DIE HARD INTERPRETED BY THE 87NORTH TEAM
Of course, the first parts of the DIE HARD series also belong to the best Christmas films of all time. We remember, exactly on Christmas Eve, John McClane first has to free a skyscraper and then an airport from the clutches of hostage-takers. Certainly, the films are quite violent. But the incomparable Bruce Willis lent such sympathy to the anti-hero McClane that these films should not be missing from any X-Mas playlist.
It’s the same with VIOLENT NIGHT. Because the action is accompanied here by a great deal of humor, warmth, and spirit. And this mix works all year round. That’s not least thanks to The 87North Team that has gathered around David Leitch again. This well-experienced group of outstanding talents is responsible for productions such as the John Wick series (apart from the first one), Bullet Train, Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, Nobody, or Safe.
A VIOLENT NIGHT VS. A VIOLENT WORLD
There’s no question that an ex-stuntman like David Leitch, who once doubled for Brad Pitt in the mega-hit Fight Club, will not present a Christmas movie without cool action scenes either. This can be questioned at a time when war is raging again in Europe – and elsewhere anyway.
However, Leitch and his team manage to give VIOLENT NIGHT an unbelievable charm that we rarely see or feel in that kind of action film. From the very first second, that certain love for Santa Claus – which we know from our childhood – returns. Well, maybe it will grow up a bit. And, it doesn’t matter when we watch the movie.
David Harbor plays Santa Claus with so much charm and wit that it’s pure joy to watch his play. He doesn’t mimic a superhero but a broken saint who doubts the good in this world. Rightly so.
So, VIOLENT NIGHT can also be seen as a wake-up call. It reminds us to look into our hearts and break some weird habits that have crept in over the years.
We can consider how we can do good in their place. For us, but, above all, for others. Finally, VIOLENT NIGHT is an action spectacle that can definitely make you think. Besides, it’s pure fun to watch it, VIOLENT NIGHT is an action film worth seeing.
THE VIOLENT NIGHT BLU-RAY
In addition to the film, the Blu-Ray contains a lot of bonus material. This includes:
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Quarrelin Kringle (Interviews with the makers)
- Making of…
- Deck the Halls with Braws (Stunt Special)
- and commentary from Director Tommy Wirkola and the producers and writers.
The Blu-Ray has the potential to be a must-have in each X-mas collection. Therefore, VIOLENT NIGHT is worth 8 points to us.
Text: Marco Kokkot
Images: Universal Pictures 2022/2023