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Violent Night Unholy Night – behind the scenes of a kick ass Christmas classic

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Producer David Leitch whose films as director include the recent Brad Pitt starrer ‘Bullet Train’ as well as Charlize Theron in ‘Atomic Blonde’ is well versed in kick ass action and had worked as a stunt man previously with director Tommy Wirkola on the 2013 film, ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’. David sent the screenplay for Violent Night to Wirkola back in summer 2021 and asked if he wanted to direct it.  Telling him the script was like Die Hard with Santa Claus! And in the film David Barbour plays Santa in ball breaking style but with an interesting backstory.

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“Santa was a greedy, violent Norwegian Viking who travelled the Scandinavian countries in search of treasure, killing anyone who got in his way,” Wirkola says. “One day, he heard a rumour about a legendary treasure way up North, so he spent months traveling as far north as he could go and, of course, the treasure wasn’t what he expected. It was the elves and the magic of Christmas that he discovered. This was the moment that he was offered some redemption and he found that in giving back, he could redeem who he was born to be, rather than a violent murderer. So, when we meet him in the film, he hasn’t thought about that life or been close to that life for hundreds of years, but over the course of the events of the film, he’s forced to put some of his skills from the past into practice.”

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So in Violent Night all manner of unholy carnage is unleashed when a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family leaving Santa to step in and save the day and Christmas too!

Here’s a few fascinating facts about the making of Violent Night…..

  • Universal actually greenlit the first draft of the script,
  • David Harbour trained intensely and extensively for the role, which allowed for more speciality shots, long takes and big movements that wouldn’t have been able to be done safely without that hardcore training
  • Many of the mercenaries in the film are portrayed by stunt actors
  • The film was shot in Winnipeg, the capitol city of Manitoba, Canada.
  • They began shooting right after Christmas of 2021 so that they could take advantage of the snowy conditions for exterior shots, but then, come to find out, it’s so cold in Winnipeg at that time of year that they couldn’t even shoot outside. So, they ended up doing exterior work in March instead, when there was still snow outside
  • On some nights, the temperatures dropped below negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. On certain nights, that they had to reschedule production because it was just too cold to shoot.
  • Throughout the film there are a load of nods to other Christmas films like Die Hard and Home Alone.
  • All of the interiors of the mansion were built from scratch, and production designer Roger Fires designed the rooms in such a way that they could be flipped and reused over and over again. For example, the great room where a large portion of the story takes place was eventually stripped and turned into the barn.
  • Every piece of Santa’s costume except for the boots were made and sourced in Winnipeg by local craftspeople
  • There are Norse symbols burned into the leather of the trim on Santa’s jacket as a nod to Santa’s Viking past. Each one symbolizes something different, such as ‘journey,’ ‘gift’ and ‘man.’ The symbols are very faint because DeLuca wanted to make it look like Santa had burnt these into the leather himself as a means of protection ahead of his journey to the North Pole

Watch the Violent Night trailer here

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