Don’t judge Violent Night by its synopsis or poster. Despite its premise, this is still a classic Christmas movie. One that’s full of, err, traditional festive joy.
Violent Night Synopsis
Santa, as in the real one, is deeply disheartened by the lack of Christmas spirit and belief throughout the world. He still perseveres with his job, though, and soon lands himself right in the middle of a violent hostage situation. The horrific gore and the desperate plea of a child ultimately resurrect the brutal Viking warrior in Santa.
Now, this is the sort of violent Christmas movie that I love! Deeply love!
It’s very naughty with its reinvention of Santa, one of modern Christmas’ most beloved “child-friendly” motifs. Because of that, this is certainly not the movie you’d want to bring your kids to. (Oh wait a sec, you can’t, can you? it’s rated R. M18 in Singapore)
But despite all the gore and swearing, Violent Night follows the classic Christmas movie formula to a fault. Remove the blood and splatter and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is another of those Hallmark or Netflix snowy holiday movies. With golden magic and an adorable kid, and emphatic messages about belief, innocence, and family conflict.
The latter took me by surprise, to be honest. I entered the cinema expecting two hours of Grindhouse gorefest. Well, that of course happened. The violence is in copious amounts too. And yet, Santa is no mean, grim, magical killing machine here, not till the final leg of the show anyway. In fact, the bulk of the story involves Santa coming to terms with what he needs to do to resolve the hostage situation. His regret shows at every stage.
This initially disappointed me. The feeling I got was that Santa was dragging his boots and just refusing to get down to business.
But I soon realise that’s the only way the story could go. After all, if Santa gleefully dishes out the sort of reality-bending magic seen in other Christmas movies, how on earth could the show even last an hour, no matter the adversaries involved?
Why would the show even be worth watching?
As for David Harbour, the Stranger Things star puts up a commendable performance, although some viewers would state the man is but replaying his Hellboy role. He is perfect as the world-weary ex-Viking with a specialty in bashing heads, but during the moments when he’s in Santa mode, he’s wonderfully convincing. Right down to his ho ho ho.
The actual story has twists and a certain cautionary message too. I wouldn’t let the present of the bag by revealing what that message is. I’ll just say our darkest decisions sometimes stay with us for life.
Given enough such decisions, our hearts could become lumps of coal, even in a non-magical world. When that happens, not even Santa can comfort us, however much he wants to.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.