"People who like this sort of thing...
... will find this the sort of thing they like."
I attended a showing of Violent Night yesterday at the Majestic 10 Cinemas in Williston, VT (after a nice, quick meal at Bliss Bee). The movie is, well, not for everyone.
If you feel a solemn reverence for Christmas, you're not likely to enjoy it. From the early moment in which a woman marveling at a flying, reindeer-drawn sleigh is splattered by a downpour of drunk-Santa vomit, it is clear that this not a traditional holiday flick.
There are some heartwarming, sensitive moments - plenty of them (mostly involving John McClane-like walkie-talkie communication between Santa and young Trudy Lightstone) - but the movie is basically a comedy bloodbath (set to an up-beat holiday soundtrack). A disillusioned Santa regains his holiday spirit as he dispenses brutal, gory justice upon a gang of very naughty home-invading thieves and saves a not-entirely-nice (except for certain members) family from an apparently deserved punishment.
The Christmas holiday, its traditions and decorations, human bodies, the Santa legend, Santa himself and even a representation of the baby Jesus all suffer great abuse in the process.
(Imagine a Friday the 13th film, but naughty camp counselors have arrived at Camp Crystal Lake in the winter and Jason Voorhees has been drinking heavily and is wearing a Santa suit. No..., that's not quite it. Comparisons to Home Alone and Die Hard also don't quite work. But you get the idea.)
There are many funny moments, particularly if you are the sort who can laugh at inventive methods of shockingly, gruesome murder. I don't ordinarily consider myself in that category, but I have to admit the snow-blower murders were surprisingly satisfying.
Aside from all the death and dismemberment, the movie includes a bit of a romantic story about parents splitting up and a child hoping for healing. But this is delivered poorly, and is well beside the point anyway.
Actor David Harbour was an effective and sympathetic Santa, John Leguizamo (who was also in The Menu) was a very convincing bad guy nursing long-hidden Christmas wounds, Beverly D'Angelo (lately you've probably been seeing quite a bit of her on repeated TV showings of Christmas Vacation) was somehow quite believable as an extraordinarily wealthy, foul-mouthed b*tch.