Violent Night channels Die Hard and other Christmas films, with a twist

Violent Night. Allen Fraser/Universal Picture
Violent Night. Allen Fraser/Universal Picture /

Violent Night was finally released into theatres over the weekend, and I was so excited by the trailer, I just had to watch it.

Violent Night stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, and it is being heavily compared to Die Hard, with the annual debate among horror/thriller fans being: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Well, the answer is yes (of course), but the new question seems to be: Is Violent Night an homage to Die Hard?

Both films are set during the holidays, and feature a group of elite criminals and a hero who gets injured multiple times throughout the night. Both films are loaded with scenes of great violence, and both are action-packed. So, yes, Violent Night is comparable to Die Hard.

But, it is also jam-packed with references to other holiday films, and the level of violence is much higher than that featured in the Bruce Willis film. There is also the fact that it is outright a Christmas movie, there can be no doubt about that. When I said David Harbour appears as Santa Claus, I didn’t mean that he plays a department store Santa – he is the legit big man himself.

In fact, his Santa bears a bit of a resemblance to Billy Bob Thornton’s in Bad Santa (but, BB was not the real Mr. Clause); he drinks heavily, curses, and is actually considering make this Christmas Eve the last one in which he delivers gifts to children. Children have become too materialistic, and there is just no Christmas spirit anymore. The film opens with him sitting in a bar, drinking beer and being generally grumpy about the holiday season.

Violent Night features “bad guys” who are both scary and funny.

Santa happens to be inside the house/compound of the very rich Lightstone family when a group of mercenaries (each bearing a Christmas-themed name, such as the leader, “Mr. Scrooge”) break in, kill several staff members and begin to threaten the family members with guns. Among those family members is sweet little Trudy, who has recently watched Home Alone for the first time.

Violent Night
(from left) Santa (David Harbour) and Scrooge (John Leguizamo) in Violent Night, directed by Tommy Wirkola. Allen Fraser / Universal Picture /

In my opinion, Violent Night is more of an homage to Home Alone than to Die Hard, since Trudy hides out in the attic and sets traps for the group of criminals, most of them emulating the booby traps Kevin sets in the iconic 1990 film. The entire time, she communicates with Santa via a set of walkie talkies, so the unlikely pair are working together.

In a bit of Christmas movie-inspired casting, Beverly D’Angelo was cast as Gertrude, the matriarch of the Lightstone family. This character is not one bit like Ellen Griswold, who D’Angelo played in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but I still consider it an Easter Egg of sorts. Gertrude is foul-mouthed and unflappable, refusing to help the mercenaries when they tell her they know she has millions of dollars locked away in a vault.

Violent Night has a very odd mix of hardcore violence (this Santa is pretty tough, even though he is injured multiple times throughout the night), comedy and heartwarming Christmas themes. I have never really seen a film quite like it, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are someone who enjoys Christmas movies, but is also intrigued by the idea of someone meeting their end via a Christmas star to the eyeball, check out Violent Night, which can currently only be seen in theaters.

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Did you spot additional Christmas movie homages in Violent Night? Let us know all about it in the comments section.