Once the weather starts to get colder and people start to get into the holiday spirit, they usually like to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and put on a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie. Now imagine curling up on the couch and spending two hours watching Santa Claus beat the tinsel out of a group of bad guys. That is what audiences are in for in the new holiday horror film “Violent Night” (2022) directed by Tommy Workola who is known for his films “Dead Snow” (2009) and “Hansel and Gretel” (2013).
“Violent Night” tells the traditional tale of how Santa Claus comes down the chimney to bring lots of presents for children while chowing down on milk and cookies. However, the film then takes a turn when a group of mercenaries attempt to break in and harm the family. Santa then takes on a warrior role and goes into combat mode in order to protect the family. While some people might find this concept interesting and refreshing compared to the exhausting amount of Christmas rom-coms, others might find it to be conflicting to the traditional meaning of the holiday and Santa Claus himself since he is supposed to be a jolly character who kids can feel comfortable around.
As an avid horror movie fan, I am no stranger to the subgenre of holiday horror. Christmas horror movies have been around for decades coining “Black Christmas” (1974) as not only the first Christmas horror movie, but the first official horror movie to be considered a slasher. Since then the subgenre has had many new additions with the most popular being “Krampus” (2015), “Silent Night” (2021), “Better Watch Out” (2016), and the “Black Christmas” remake (2019). Even though I grew up watching horror movies all year around, I also grew up with the classic Christmas/holiday movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “Christmas Vacation” (1989), “A Christmas Story” (1983), “The Grinch” (2000), etc., so I understand the concern with jeopardizing the safe and warm feeling holiday movies are supposed to provide for their viewers.
As beloved as those films are to multiple generations, they could also create a great sense of loneliness and depression for people. Films that are focused around love and family and traditions could potentially hit hard for individuals who do not have those things and the holidays could already be hard enough for them without the constant reminder through films. Also with the large amount of happy Christmas movies that are released each year, other individuals might also get a little bored with the predictability of them. Now that is not to say that people should stop making joyful Christmas movies considering that is the point of the holiday season and they do provide a lot of happiness, but maybe the not-so-joyful ones should also be given a chance to shine. The horror genre is so vast in meanings and metaphors that they actually portray some pretty cool concepts. The “Black Christmas” movies, for example, are centered around an anonymous killer who kills off a group of sorority girls one by one. Both the original and the remake toy with the idea of female fear and how throughout generations and even in the present, women are targeted, ignored and gaslit into numerous terrifying situations. Even in a setting that is supposed to seem safe like a college campus and during one of the coziest seasons like the holidays, the most heinous acts are committed in secret which creates such an ominous feeling for young women especially.
Overall, the holiday season leaves people with a great amount of time to watch a lot of different movies and if you are someone who is partial to the great Christmas classics, I suggest you give one of the listed movies above a chance and you might be surprised. You might want to save the cheesy ones for nighttime, though, so you can sleep easier at night.