The semester is winding down to its last week, which means that I’m suddenly embraced by a mountain of tedious administrative work. I posted an online exam on Saturday, which I’ll have to grade on Tuesday; the students all submitted their final lab report, which I have to get graded by Wednesday; I’m giving a practice lab final tomorrow, and the real thing later this week, which I have to finish grading by the weekend; I have another exam to give in my intro class on Thursday; I’ve got some term papers to stamp with an official final grade; I get to sit through another round of phone interviews for a chemistry position tomorrow night; and then I have two finals to give and grade next week. Did I forget anything? Probably.
Anyway, I wrapped up one pile of work yesterday, and decided I could justify a little celebration. I could see a movie. A Christmas movie! That’ll cheer me up.
The Christmas movie playing in town is Violent Night. It wasn’t exactly the light holiday fare I expected.
The plot is ripped off from other Christmas movies, in particular, Die Hard. A small horde of vicious criminals descend on the mansion of a rich woman who, they’ve learned, has $300 million in cash on hand. Their theft is meticulously planned, right down to infiltrating the squad of military veterans who are supposed to fly to the woman’s rescue if anything nefarious happens to her party. The one thing they didn’t plan for was that one resilient, cunning man would just happen to be in the house when they invaded.
That man is not Bruce Willis, but instead is…Santa Claus. The real deal. The actual mythic figure who happened to be in the house to deliver presents when the terrorists opened fire, scaring his reindeer and sleigh away, leaving him behind to get revenge.
There’s also a little girl in the house who escapes the thieves and starts building booby traps ala Home Alone. One difference: her booby traps straight up murder the bad guy who tries to climb a ladder to get to her, with bowling balls falling on his head and driving a nail into his skull so he falls onto a floor covered with spiky nasty things.
Another unexpected detail — no, not a mere detail, the whole bloody movie — is that Santa arms himself with a sledgehammer and proceeds to smash all the naughty people (he has a list, he checks it, and they’re all listed under “Naughty”) into grisly pulp. Santa can be killed, and is shot multiple times, but he is revived by the family he’s rescuing telling his corpse that they believe. And by burning half a million dollars to keep him warm, which I suppose is a metaphor for something.
It’s a twisted, hyper-violent movie, and maybe the Christmas movie America deserves, if you think we deserve a demented gory trifle like a gift chihuahua gone rabid and feral, there to show you why we can’t have anything nice. This movie is little more than a novelty mashup swathed in blood. It ain’t Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, but it is in the same family, updated for the 21st century.
I don’t know whether I liked it or not. Don’t bother asking me.
It was better than, and less bloody than, grading lab reports, though, and also not as evil and degenerate as Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, so I guess I’ll have to give it a tentative thumbs up.