Film "Rare Exports", which offers a unique and slightly dark take on Christmas, is a hit with critics
REUTERS / ICON - Any illusion of Santa as a kind-hearted, child friendly, gift-giving old man is shattered in the decidedly un-Christmassy tale "Rare Exports".
Set in the Finnish Arctic, a team of excavators discover a menacing old man in an ancient ice block - who they believe is the original Santa Claus.
He is a frightening presence whose arrival co-incides with the grizzly slaughter of a herd of reindeer and the disappearance of several children in the village.
The locals, led by a young boy find themselves uncovering a closely guarded Christmas secret - one that may leave audiences unable to see Santa as a gentle, rosy-cheeked chap ever again.
It's the first feature film for director Jamari Helander, who, unsurprisingly, says he's something of a Christmas grinch.
"I don't like all the Christmas hullaballo . I think it should be more of a peaceful time because it seems people are more stressed out and really, really stressing about Christmas every year and there's something wrong with that," he said.
Helander told Reuters Television he started to question the notion of a jolly, happy Santa fairly early in life.
"I really liked Christmas. When I was older I started to have this idea that there's something wrong with this. There had to be something behind that, because it's interesting that when small children see Santa Claus for the first time they are still really afraid of it because it's something like they already have it inside of them before all this childish propaganda pollutes their mind."
Despite this, the director, who has a three year old child, says he won't be scrimping on Christmas festivities at his house this year.
"There will be Santa in my house, for sure. Don't know what kind, but he will be there."
Helander adapted Rare Exports from two of his own award winning short films.
He told Reuters he has no plans to do a sequel, despite critics' enthusiastic reviews of the movie.
He's now working on his second feature which he's described as a weird action film.