Today sees the release of Violent Night, the latest "Bad Santa" style movie in which Stranger Things and Hellboy star David Harbour plays an action hero take on the Jolly Old Elf, who squares off against a team of terrorists who have stormed the estate of a wealthy family on Christmas Eve. And of course, if you have a Christmas movie about a home invasion, it will inevitably draw comparisons to Home Alone, the 1990 Christmas classic about a kid defending his home from a pair of burglars.
There are two ways to confront those comparisons: lean in, or lean away from Home Alone. Many filmmakers would likely lean away from it, since the elaborate traps and Rube Goldberg devices were so expertly executed by filmmaker John Hughes and his team that it's a high bar to clear. Violent Night goes the other way.
producer Kelly McCormick:
"[Jonathan] Eusebio, who's our second unit director and coordinator and Tommy Wirkola, our director with David Leitch and myself, had this plan of trying to really pay homage to [Home Alone] but allow for it to be sort of innocent but also incredibly dangerous at the same time," producer Kelly McCormick told ComicBook.com. "And so Leah's character, Trudy, doesn't know that what's happening is turning into a real problem, and she's just kind of playing games, and kind of how it then flowed into these like crazy and serious moments for these other characters. That you can really camp up and have a good time with. It is a kid, and you want it to feel like almost like an R-rated kids' movie in that section. That was the goal, and I do believe we achieved it in a way that kind of surprised all of us while we were making it as well."
"That Home Alone sequence is a real crowd pleaser," Harbour told us. "I mean, it plays so well. I think part of it too is that she's so charismatic, and so charming and wide-eyed and sweet, that her trying to recreate that movie in a crazy violent way is quite surprising and hilarious. Tommy's great with all that stuff. He was so creative on set, so spontaneous and such a wacky, fun dude, and loved the bloody stuff so much that the whole spirit and the whole vibe was very joyful. It was a really nice shoot."
"The Home Alone scene was it was always in the script, but one of the first things I said when I read the script was that this scene could be so much bigger," Wirkola explained. "It should be the showstopper in the movie, because I -- like so many other people, and I'm sure that's the reason why the writers came up with it -- always wondered what would happen if Home Alone really took place. Those traps would be lethal. So, our approach was actually, okay, let's try to replicate that. We don't wanna go too elaborate with the traps. You just wanna really wanna show what happens if those traps really existed. We cast stunt people for those roles so we can really hurt them and really do some crazy stuff with them, and the reason why the scene work so well is also because Trudy, the little girl, she doesn't realize she's doing anything horrific. She's just doing the movie. It's just fun and games!"
Violent Night opens in theaters Friday