Director Tommy Wirkola wrecks the halls Fierce NightA festive action movie with all the decorations and a few kinds of ho-ho-respect.
“Thanks to Universal, but I’m surprised they let us do our job,” he said excitedly. “They never said no. They didn’t say, ‘Tommy, maybe that’s too much.’ They were like, ‘Try it. I was pretty sure we were going to get some backlash for Universal at the premiere, but they loved it.”
Fierce Night He sees David Harbor posing as Santa Claus and finds himself in the middle of a heist when a cracked-up team of tough criminals take a super-rich family hostage in their home on Christmas Eve. No prizes for guessing which Santa’s list they’re on as the mayhem ensues.
I spoke to Wirkola to talk about the movie, the gifts the genre leaves to fans, and what he thinks would be the perfect double bill.
Simon Thompson: I had a lot of fun with it and the audience I saw him embraced. There are very few movies I’ve watched this year that people have had such an enthusiastic response to.
Tommy Wirkola: I’ve barely seen it with a crowd yet. It was only the second time here in Los Angeles at Beyond Fest.
Thompson: When the trailer hit the internet, the reaction was phenomenal. It spread like wildfire on social media. Were you aware of this?
Wirkola: We all felt like the trailer had exploded in a really big way. You don’t want to worry too much about this, but of course I went online and read the reactions. There’s something on YouTube where people are recording their reaction to the trailer, and I’ve watched a few of them, it was really fun. Thanks to Universal for cutting the trailer for making it feel like it captures the essence of the movie, and trailers don’t always do that. They nailed it. When we got the report, it’s had nearly 20 million views on the official Universal page since it was released, and probably even more now, which is pretty crazy.
Thompson: It was critical to be a part of it, and David is incredible as Santa. Was he very persuasive to get into the role, or even accepted in the first place?
Wirkola: He was the first man I went to. I know it’s okay to say this to be polite, but that was the case. We had our first audition meeting, we sat down and reviewed names, and someone mentioned David Harbor and it was one of those moments when we all said, ‘Yeah, he’s perfect. We sent it to him and he was shooting a Netflix.
Thompson: I didn’t know Beverly D’Angelo was involved until I saw the movie. strongly associated with it National Lampoon’s Christmas Holiday. Was it too convincing to return to the genre?
Wirkola: No, not at all. He loved the script and the role. He saw that we were trying to make a new kind of Christmas movie with our own sharpness and humor. He loved the idea of playing that kind of character in the first intro scene, where he walks back and forth down the hall and we see and hear him a little bit. Eighty percent of these curses were improvised. There were some great expressions in there and I was like, ‘Oh, okay. She seemed eager to play such a role, so she embraced it and had a lot of fun with it. For me, National Lampoon’s Christmas Holiday It is the best Christmas movie. I see it every year because for some reason it’s something that Norwegian television plays on December 23. I watch it every time and it gives me the Christmas spirit. Beverly has a great sense of timing and loved the idea of playing the super-dark, foul-mouthed character.
Thompson: You are known for pushing the boundaries in your work. I am a big fan of you Dead Snow movies. With Fierce NightWere there any boundaries you wondered about pushing too hard, or were there situations where people wanted you to take things even further?
Wirkola: On Dead Snow In the movies, especially the latter, I felt like there were no boundaries, and that was part of the charm. When it came to that, I honestly felt that if we could get the heart of the movie, the Christmas elements, right, we could do whatever we wanted with the rest of it. Congratulations again to Universal, but I’m surprised they let us do our job. They never said no. They never said, ‘Tommy, maybe that’s too much. They were like ‘just go for it’. Try.’ At our first screening for Universal, I was pretty sure we were going to get some backlash, where everything is in, but they loved it. It’s all about tone. If you get that balance right, you can get away with anything. I believe it. Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi are my biggest inspirations for this kind of thing. I remember seeing Evil Dead II and Braindeath so good to see these movies and how you can combine extreme brutality and horror with moments of laughter. It was like one of those seminal moments that shaped me and my sensitivities. I always come back to this. Watch these movies and you will see that you can do anything with the right tone.
Thompson: Fierce Night It was originally presented as: Die Hard and Home alone I realized what I thought were a few nods to Santa and that festive action classic. One of them is a security guard named Al. Was this intentional or coincidence and more?
Wirkola: The guard named Al was always in the script, so I’m not entirely sure if it was intentional, but I believe it was. There’s also Santa and Trudy talking on the radios, and that’s, Die Hard. Again, it’s always a balance. You don’t want to do too much. You want to find your own path and pay tribute, but you also want to give it something new and a fresh spin. Of course, being Santa gives us that chance. Of course there is also this Home alone one of my favourites. Again, it was a movie I loved growing up, and I got a chance to do something crazy with it. Right there Die Hard, Home aloneand christmas holiday Due to the nature of casting Beverly, and also on the production side and on the sets that I hope people see, there are a lot of hidden easter eggs.
Thompson: I noticed there was a line towards the end where John Leguizamo said ‘Christmas is dying tonight’. was this one Halloween Kills reference?
Wirkola: No, actually it wasn’t him. I saw the first of the new Halloween movies and just watched the other two. That’s when I realized it was close to most of them but it wasn’t intentional. This is a response to Santa, who is at the beginning of the movie and is thinking of pulling the plug on Christmas. It was more of an echo of Santa Claus at the beginning of the movie, but in retrospect, it’s very Halloween a certain feeling.
Thompson: When it comes to holiday movies, what would you consider a perfect match? Fierce Night as double bill? Would you go with a traditional Christmas movie like Miracle on 34th Street or similar action movie Long Kiss Good Night?
Wirkola: Yes definitely Long Kiss Good Night. This would be a great match. I will go for it.
Fierce Nights In theaters only, starting Friday, December 2, 2022.