Violent Night: How Die Hard and Bad Santa influenced David Harbour’s new Christmas movie

David Harbour and John Leguizamo in Violent Night.Universal Pictures

Violent Night director Tommy Wirkola explains how his new festive film pays homage to Christmas classics Die Hard and Bad Santa.

Violent Night stars David Harbour a Santa Claus who is tough as nails, and who takes on a gang of thieves during a robbery on Christmas Eve.

The film is influenced by Home Alone, with a character called Trudy using tactics cribbed from the Macaulay Culkin flick to slow the burglars down.

But two more movies cast a festive shadow over Violent Night, one in terms of plot, the other regarding character. Here director Tommy Wirkola explains…

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How Violent Night pays homage to Die Hard

During Violent Night, Santa mentions having a Die Hard movie in his sack, a nod to the action movie masterpiece that Tommy Wirkola’s film actively apes. Indeed the Die Hard angle was one of the reasons the director signed up.

“I got the script from the producers 87 North, who are old friends of mine,” Wirkola told Dexerto. “They said it’s basically Die Hard with Santa Claus. Which is true in a way – it is that. But it’s so much more.

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“Most importantly to me, it had a big heart, and it really felt like a Christmas movie. That was what got me really excited. We know we can do all the action, we know we can have fun with the tone and go to crazy places, but making it a Christmas movie, and keeping that beating heart with Santa and Trudy throughout the film – weaving that in and out – was key to me and what I latched onto when making it. Because I knew that if we get that right, we can go as crazy as we want with the other stuff.”

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How Bad Santa influenced Violent Night

In Violent Night, we first meet David Harbour’s Santa drinking in a pub, and he spends the film’s early scenes in a drunken haze. Not unlike Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa.

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“I love that movie in general,” Wirkola explains. “I would put that movie in my top list and it was a movie we discussed going into this one because that was a film that showed you could go into some really dark places with and have a lot of extreme humour in your film but as long as you have the message and that Christmas feel, it still feels like a Christmas movie.

“You walk out of Bad Santa feeling the Christmas holiday spirit. That was a big inspiration for us – I love that movie.”

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Violent Night hits screens this Friday (December 2).

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