A hidden gem of a Christmas movie. Rare Exports is a holiday favorite of mine. Who doesn’t like a little horror mixed in with their holidays?

The film is a nice mix of fantasy, action, and horror elements and gets all those elements just right. Rare Exports is set in Finland and the story concerns the accidental discovery of the place where the original Santa is imprisoned.

A drilling company bores into a huge mound that turns out to be a giant prison cell. The discovery leads to Santa calling in his elves to free him. They all happen to look like bearded old men who start stealing various heating items to help thaw Santa out, along with kidnapping all the town’s children.

One of the local children figures out what is going on and enlists his Dad and most of the local reindeer herders to help him stop the eldritch abomination Santa from getting loose into the world.

It is a helluva fun story, and I’m not going to go into any more detail than that. I will say the story also establishes where all the mall Santas come from.

Rare Exports came about from two original short films from 2003 and 2005. The shorts tell the story of how the wild “Santas”, or the elves, are caught and exported to other countries for use as mall Santas. The second short was about how to safely handle and treat the wild Santas during their training.  It was too great a concept to keep as two short films. Luckily they expanded it into this great, feature-length, black comedy.

Usually, kid actors are insufferable but the boy starring in the film is great and turns out to be the hero of the film. He goes from an innocent boy to being willing to sacrifice himself to save the village and maybe even the world.

No one who has watched this movie dislikes it. It’s a hidden holiday classic with a fun, suspenseful story with a lot of heart. Others agreed. Roger Ebert awarded the film three and a half out of four stars and called it:

“…a rather brilliant lump of coal for your stocking, an R-rated Santa Claus origin story crossed with The Thing

…this is a fine film. An original, daring, carefully crafted film, that never for one instant winks at us that it’s a parody. In its tone, acting, location work, music, and inexorably mounting suspense, this is an exemplary horror film, apart from the detail that they’re not usually subtitled A Christmas Tale and tell about terrifying wild Santas.”

Make Rare Exports part of your Christmas viewing. You will thank us for it.


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