Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

rare exports a christmas tale poster 2010 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting concept

Under developed

Movie Info

Movie Name: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Studio: Agnes b. Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Seasonal

Release Date(s): September 24, 2010 (Fantastic Fest)/December 3, 2010 (Finland)

MPAA Rating: R

rare exports a christmas tale elf santa claus peeter jakobi

You better not pout…

Something is happening in a small Finnish town.  Reindeer have been slaughtered and children are missing as Christmas approaches.  A geological study on a nearby mountain could be the cause of the horror, but when Pietari Kontio (Onni Tommila) realizes what is going on, no one will believe him…even his father (Jorma Tommila).  The scientists on the mountain are out to prove a myth and legend is true, but legends can change over time.  You better not cry and you better not pout…Santa Claus is coming to town.

Written and directed by Jalmari Helander, Rare Exports:  A Christmas Tale was a Finnish film released in 2010 and based upon Helander’s short films Rare Exports, Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports:  The Official Safety Instructions (2005).  It premiered at Fantastic Fest in 2010 and received mixed to positive reviews.

I love horror, fairy tales, and exploration of Christmas myth, so Rare Exports was definitely something I was interested.  Horror movies like Silent Night, Deadly Night really exploit the holiday, but films like Rare Exports take a different approach by going back to the roots of Christmas.

rare exports a christmas tale pietari onni tommila

You better not cry…

The story (despite being for adults) takes a very fairy tale approach by telling it through the eyes of a child.  Christmas is a magical time for kids and here, the magic is real…but magic isn’t always nice.  The story almost doesn’t take it far enough because it feels a lot like the story ends before it really gets going.  You don’t really learn what the scientists want with Santa Claus or anything about the research group, and this part takes up a lot of the movie’s time.  The elves (aka Santa Clauses) are creepy and you never get to see the real Santa Claus other than in a block of ice.  The ironic ending of the story really ties into the short original films and helps create this weird tone to the film.

Movies focused around kids can be difficult.  Onni Tommila does a decent job holding down the movie as the “star” and his appearance as the red-cheeked little kid is what the movie needed.  The primary “elf” played by Peeter Jakobi is also sufficiently scary, but he also really resembles the classic European Santa Claus if he was dressed appropriately (or dressed at all).

rare exports a christmas tale elf santa claus peeter jakobi per christian ellefsen

I’m telling you why…

With the creepy elves, the movie’s visuals are pretty good.  As mentioned, I would have liked to have seen the true Santa Claus in some form (like a flashback or something), but the director chose not to really show him.  The imagery of the elves chasing the helicopter like a pack of animals does raise the creep factor of the whole Santa Claus storyline, however.

Rare Exports is worth picking up and seeing. It has that weird foreign feel that something like Let the Right One In has (though not nearly as good). The movie just doesn’t make it over the hump for me on what it could have been. I could almost see a bit of a sequel, or I can imagine a remake where this is pushed (and since they remake everything, I don’t feel bad even mentioning it). If you’re looking for a different Christmas movie this holiday season, this might be it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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