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Categories: Movie Reviews

As most film lovers would expect, the films where the character of Santa Claus is involved, is expected to be loving, caring, and to give presents to all children around the world for Christmas. Most films supporting the Western ideas have this kind of commercialized portrayal, by glorifying him as an angelus being, bringing stars of Hollywood into the picture and making them angels, and by using dry and physical humour.

That is not the case with the film Rare Exports, directed by Jalmari Helander, based on his award-winning short from 2003 Rare Export. Jalmari Helander also produced a sequel in 2005 Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions. His films began gaining cult reputation online, and he released his Rare Exports feature film in 2010.

The feature film is completely a reversal of what anyone would expect, if they haven’t seen the previous films by Helander. Nobody sees Santa Claus in the film. The audience is told that he is buried in the ground of Korvantunturi Mountains, 486 meters deep, and a group of Americans are digging his grave to find “the largest mount burial in the world”, and use an explosive to uncover “the sacred grave”. Two children, who fail to immediately report to the village, see this. The younger one, also the film protagonist, Pietari, knowing about the legend briefly, investigates Santa in the books and discovers that the reason he’s been buried is because he was a bad man who was stealing children for Christmas. The angry villagers decided to bury him alive by building the mountains. Based on the pictures and sources, the child protagonist believes that because he’s been awakened, all the children will be taken from the village for Santa’s food.

Shortly after the grave is been dug up, the elves attack the American workers and eat them all. They also eat the reindeer that was supposed to be the Christmas meal for the villagers. The elves also jump all over the place and steal all the children. As the viewer progresses more in the film, the horror and the tension rise and it becomes more suspenseful, adventurous but it also has some dry humour. Somehow at the end, the little Pietari and his father and friends manage to resolve the Santa situation and get the kids back home for Christmas, and sell the elves as “Rare Exports” for the following Christmas.

The film has received 2 nominations and 8 awards, including the Best International Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in the USA. It is rated 6.7/10 on IMDB. For the graphic and violent content has a rating R, and the review rating on Rotten Tomatoes called it “an unexpectedly delightful crossbreed of deadpan comedy and Christmas horror”. The New York Times has also published their review claiming that “kids will love the diminutive, motherless hero…, adults will enjoy the exuberantly pagan images of deadpan humour”

Jalmari Helander is currently working on anew feature with Samuel L. Jackson; Big Game.


Marija Makeska is a writer, poet, filmmaker and a visual artist living in Detroit, USA. She enjoys spending her time with people from different cultures while working on various projects with pagan, or gothic themes.

Posted on Dec 4, 2013

One Response to “Rare Exports: An Interesting Take on Portraying Santa Claus”
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  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Hei wat?

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