Deck the halls with buckets of blood

David Harbour and John Leguizamo star in the “Yule Noir” film Violent Night.

Ordinarily, one wouldn’t judge a Christmas movie by the quality of its on-screen kills. But as yet another volatile year draws to a close, you might find yourself taking a measure of vicarious satisfaction in the spectacle of a red-suited, hammer-swinging, skull-crushing hero smiting his enemies. That hero, of course, is Santa Claus in Violent Night, a surprisingly festive action comedy from Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters).

The dark tone is set early as Santa — the real one, not a mall knockoff — is seen leaving an English pub, where the overwhelmed and burned-out character has been drowning his seasonal sorrows. (Yes, Virginia, sometimes even Santa wants to give up.) As Santa’s sleigh takes off into the winter night, the middle-aged pub owner looks up at the sky in childlike wonder — only for Santa to lean over and vomit on her.