Santa Claus Reimagined: Rare Exports Film Review

Rare Exports

As the festive season approaches, the twinkling lights and holiday cheer often bring to mind heartwarming tales and family-friendly films. However, here at, we’re dusting off the snow to reveal the darker side of yuletide joy. Christmas is coming once again, and with it, we delve into the chilling realms where holiday spirits and horror intertwine. Today, we’re revisiting an unconventional Christmas tale that’s sure to send shivers down your spine even as the fire crackles warmly in the hearth. Prepare to unwrap our in-depth review of “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” a Finnish film that masterfully blends the festive with the frightful. Grab your hot cocoa and a cozy blanket, but don’t get too comfortable—this holiday horror is anything but a silent night.

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” directed by the Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander, is a film that gleefully subverts the cozy, comforting image of Santa Claus with a sinister and thrilling reinterpretation that could be described as a cross between the holiday classic “A Christmas Story” and John Carpenter’s chilling “The Thing.” This movie is not your quintessential Christmas cheer; instead, it’s a cleverly crafted horror film with a darkly comedic soul—a lump of coal in your stocking that burns with an intriguing glow.

Set in the remote, icy expanses of the Arctic Circle, the film introduces us to Pietari, played with earnest determination by Onni Tommila, reminiscent of Peter Billingsley’s iconic Ralphie but with a Nordic twist. Pietari and his father, Rauno (Jorma Tommila), live a rugged life on a reindeer ranch—a setting that the film uses to its full advantage, drawing from the stark, natural beauty and isolation to heighten the sense of impending dread.

The clever narrative takes us through a chilling local legend about a monstrous Santa Claus, buried for centuries, and the unwitting American team that sets it free. As the townsfolk grapple with the horror of their livestock being slaughtered and children disappearing, Pietari emerges as the unlikely hero, piecing together the mystery that adults seem oblivious to.

The film’s strength lies in its unwavering commitment to its premise. Helander skillfully balances the absurdity of taming wild Santas (a nod to his earlier short films) with the genuine terror that comes from facing the unknown. The movie is shot with a deft hand, with cinematography that captures both the beauty and the terror of the Arctic wilderness, and a score that underlines the creeping horror without ever feeling out of place.

The R rating is indeed earned, with language and a starkly naked, feral Santa contributing to the mature tone. This is not a film for those seeking heartwarming holiday fare but is instead a gift for those who revel in the macabre and the thought-provoking. The absence of winks to the audience preserves the film’s integrity as a horror piece, never allowing the parody to overshadow the storytelling.

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” stands out as an original and daring film that confidently walks the line between horror and parody without ever slipping into the realm of the ridiculous. It’s a finely tuned machine of suspense and dark humor, proving that Christmas movies, much like fairy tales of old, can have a sharp edge and a shadowy heart. It’s a testament to Helander’s vision that the film maintains a serious tone while delivering a narrative that is as outlandish as it is thrilling. The young Pietari, with his mix of vulnerability and courage, provides a human anchor to the story, reminding us that the greatest adventures often come from the most innocent of intentions.

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is a film that doesn’t just break the mold—it freezes it and shatters it with an ice pick. Its depiction of a feral, ancient Santa is a far cry from the Coca-Cola-sponsored jolliness we’re used to. Instead, it taps into something older and more primal—a reminder that our modern holiday myths have roots in darker, more mysterious folklore.

The performances are solid across the board, with the cast grounding the fantastical elements in a gritty reality that makes the unfolding horror all the more compelling. The Finnish landscape is used to great effect, creating an atmospheric backdrop that is both beautiful and haunting.

This film is a rare export indeed, one that delivers a darkly twisted, yet undeniably festive experience. It’s a holiday horror that manages to be both refreshing and deeply unnerving, a reminder that the most magical time of the year can also be the most chilling. For those in search of something beyond the typical holiday fare, “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is a gift that keeps on giving—albeit one that might just bite.

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  1. As a devout horror fan, it’s refreshing to find a film that isn’t afraid to take risks, especially with a holiday as oversaturated with clichés as Christmas. Your review captures the essence of ‘Rare Exports’ beautifully, Justin. It’s a film that doesn’t pull any punches with its R rating, and that’s something to be respected. I appreciate the way Helander has reimagined Santa Claus, tapping into the more obscure folklore. It’s a much-needed departure from the run-of-the-mill seasonal fluff.

  2. I’ve never heard of ‘Rare Exports’ before, but the way you describe it makes it sound like a thrilling ride. I’m not usually one for horror films, especially around the holidays, but I’m tempted to make an exception for this one.

  3. I’ll be honest, I clicked on your review fully ready to dismiss ‘Rare Exports’ as another gimmicky horror film, but you’ve got me second-guessing myself. It’s clear you’ve got a good eye for what makes horror work

  4. Wow! I NEED to see Rare Exports immediately! The concept of a monstrous, feral Santa Claus unleashed to wreak havoc sounds incredible. And setting it in remote Finland was genius – all that stark, cold isolation is the perfect backdrop for horror. I love that they played it straight without winking at the audience. The young hero Pietari sounds great too. This is my new favorite holiday film! So refreshing to see such an original and bold twist on Christmas tales. I can’t wait to experience the creepy thrills and dark humor for myself. Thanks for reviewing this gem! Off to track down a copy now!

  5. dude, this rare exports movie sounds twisted! santa claus being some freaky monster buried in the snow, people’s kids disappearing, wild santas running around?? sign me up, lol. i love christmas movies but enough with the sappy hallmark stuff already. this looks dark and intense and right up my alley for holiday horror. might have to throw this one on late some night when i want some creepy fun!

  6. Yo, I’m always down for some genre mash-up! Christmas horror is an intriguing premise – you get to play on people’s nostalgia and warmth for the season, then turn everything on its head. And setting it in Finland? Inspired location choice, bro.

    Raw wilderness meets isolated terror. I appreciate that the director shot this thing with some real cinematic flair too. The anchor to reality with the kid protagonist is textbook. Gonna elevate the scares. I’d love to see how they integrated some of those freaky Santa mythological vibes.

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