Violent Night is ‘Die Hard with Santa Claus,’ says the director

Watch: Violent Night director Tommy Wirkola on judging Christmas brutality

Director Tommy Wirkola said the “big heart” of his Christmas action film Violent Night gave him the freedom to push the envelope with his blood-soaked action sequences.

The film stars David Harbor as Santa Claus, who accesses his past as a fearless warrior to defend a family held hostage on Christmas Eve by mercenaries looking to steal millions of dollars.

“When they sent it to me, they said it was like Die Hard with Santa. It looks great, but it could go either way,” Wirkola told Yahoo UK.

Read more: The Home Alone reboot stars some slapstick holiday violence

The director behind Dead Snow and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is no stranger to onscreen violence, but he knew he had to be careful given the Christmas setting.

He said, “When I read the script, I really loved how it felt like a Christmas movie and how it had a big heart. I felt like if you could get it right, we could go as crazy as we want about the rest.

Tommy Wirkola directed David Harbor as Santa Claus in the new action film Violent Night. (Universal Images)

“It’s certainly a daunting thing. Hopefully I can join a good company of movies that you can watch every year. When the kids have gone to bed, you can put this on.”

Wirkola said that the “fantasy world” in which the story takes place provided “more freedom” to see how far the violence could go.

Read more: The best Christmas movies of the 21st century

He added: ‘An example is the scene in a barn where Santa faces 25 mercenaries with a club.

“That scene was supposed to be, first, no soundtrack, just hammer sound effects and him going in and out of the shadows like Batman taking on these guys and doing awful things with his hammer.

David Harbor plays a version of Santa Claus with blood on his hands in the holiday action film Violent Night.  (Universal Images)

David Harbor plays a version of Santa Claus with blood on his hands in the holiday action film Violent Night. (Universal Images)

“But when we cut it together, we realized ‘you know what, this is actually too much, this is too violent.’ So we put in Bryan Adams’ Christmas Time, which is a great Christmas song that I grew up on.

“He just made that scene funny and fascinating. Yes violent, but with a sense of fun underneath it. It’s always worth finding the right balance.”

Read more: Paul Feig says critics are “sniffed” about Christmas movies

Wirkola hinted that he enjoyed playing in This World so much that there could be a return to Violent Night if Harbor is ready for a Christmas comeback.

“The script was written as one thing and that was it. But when we went into it and made it and explored it, we realized that we don’t see Santa’s workshop, we don’t see the elves, we don’t see The Mrs Claus.

David Harbour's Santa Claus and a mercenary played by John Leguizamo clash with wits and fists in the festive action film Violent Night.  (Universal Images)

David Harbour’s Santa Claus and a mercenary played by John Leguizamo combine wits and fists in the festive action film Violent Night. (Universal Images)

“There are many places you can go and explore. Knock on wood, let’s see what happens with this.”

Still, there will need to be some invention at play to keep things fresh, as Wirkola’s story seems to use every festive pun and imaginative trick of holiday violence in the book.

Read more: How Die Hard inspired the Marvel Hawkeye series

“I feel like we used every single Christmas decoration and ornament in this one. But I’m sure there are other things to explore,” said the director.

Violent Night is in UK cinemas from 2 December.

Watch: Violent Night Trailer

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