Violent Night director hopes his movie becomes an annual favourite

Tommy Wirkola said the 'big heart' of his Christmas action movie Violent Night gave him the freedom to push boundaries with his blood-soaked action sequences.

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

Violent Night is available to watch in UK cinemas from 2 December.

Video transcript

TOM BEASLEY: Did you feel any pressure, I guess, going into this, making a Christmas film--


TOM BEASLEY: --because if you make a Christmas film, people could watch that every single year.

TOMMY WIRKOLA: Oh, yeah, for sure. And that's something-- but that was also actually what drew me to it the most. When they sent it to me, they said it was like [? "Direwood" ?] Santa Claus. And it's like, oh, OK, that sounds cool. But you know, it could go both ways. But when I read the script, I really loved how it felt like a Christmas movie and how it had a big heart.

And I felt like if we can get that right, we can go as crazy as we want on the rest. But no, it is certainly a daunting thing of-- hopefully, you can join a good company of movies that you can watch every year. When the kids have gone to bed, you can put this one on.

TOM BEASLEY: Definitely. And I wanted to ask about the action and the violence because, I guess, it's finding a level, right, because you don't want it to be so nasty that people can't enjoy their Christmas.

TOMMY WIRKOLA: Yeah. No, for sure. Again, tone-- it comes back to tone and having fun with it. Then it's a fantastical world, obviously, a world that gives you more freedom. But no, like an example is-- is a scene where there's a scene in the barn where Santa takes on 25 mercenaries with a sledgehammer.

And that scene was supposed to be-- first, when we made the film, we were supposed to be with no score, no-- just sound effects, hammer, him going in out of shadows like Batman, taking on these guys, doing horrific things with his hammer. [CHUCKLES] But when we cut it together, we realized, you know what, this is actually-- it's too much. It's too violent.

So we put in-- we just put in Bryan Adams "Christmas Time" on it, which is a huge Christmas song where I grew up. And it just made that scene funny and charming and, yes, violent, but with kind of a sense of fun underneath it. So yeah, it's always about finding that right balance.

TOM BEASLEY: And you've got to find some new weaponry to use if you make a sequel.

TOMMY WIRKOLA: Yes. That's-- that would be a tricky part because I feel like we used any-- every single Christmas decoration and ornament in this one. But I'm sure there's-- there's some more stuff to be-- to be explored.