Santa and the elves aren’t so cuddly in these Nordic Christmas horror gems

(left) A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) battles a mythic/demonic Santa in <em>Rare Exports:  Christmas Tale</em>. (right) A young girl named Josefine (Sonia Steen) befriends a strange woodland creature and upsets the delicate balance of a remote island in <em>Elves</em>.

Enlarge / (left) A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) battles a mythic/demonic Santa in Rare Exports: Christmas Tale. (right) A young girl named Josefine (Sonia Steen) befriends a strange woodland creature and upsets the delicate balance of a remote island in Elves. (credit: Oscilloscope Labs/Netflix/Sean Carroll)

Western Christmas tradition centers on the jolly figure of Santa Claus and his workshop manned by adorably cheery elves at the North Pole. Fantasy is dominated by figures like J.R.R. Tolkien’s majestic elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, inspired by Old English poetry.  But there are other, darker incarnations of elvish creatures in folklore from around the world.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit different for your holiday entertainment this weekend, I highly recommend a Christmas double feature drawing inspiration from Nordic folklore:  Elves, a new Danish series that debuted on Netflix last month, and a delightful 2010 Finnish film called Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010).

(Some spoilers below but no major reveals.)

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