Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – Movie Review
Feeling jolly this Christmas? Feeling resentful and full of anger? Either way grab Rare Exports: A Christmas Movie (2010) on DVD sit back on enjoy the Finnish goodness. This film came about after the cult success of director Jalmari Helander’s earlier, shorts released online. Rare Exports Inc (2003) followed by Rare Exports: Official Safety Instructions (2005). The shorts are still readily available to watch today, and are well worth the time. Once you have devoured them you will be left wanting more and that is exactly what you get with the full feature Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.
Rare Exports takes place in the Korvatunturi Mountains, and is set around a group of reindeer hunters, who are bewildered by the sudden lack of their game. Suspicions are ripe that it has something to do with the scientific work taking place in the mountains. Here, 486 metres deep, lies what the scientists are calling a sacred grave or burial mound. What is inside the hole, how is it affecting the game, who knows? One clever little boy thinks he may have figured it out when children and supplies start disappearing from the community. He believes it is Santa Claus! Not the cuddly red suited jolly man who delivers presents to good girls and boys, but the benevolent violent bogeyman, who sends his Krampus, creatures who capture children out to do his bidding.
This all comes to fruition when the locals capture themselves a naked, aged, long white bearded man….Santa? So, of course to recuperate their costs for losing their game, they decide they wish to sell him to science, or whoever will take him. Only is this the real Santa, or is there more?
Well that would be telling and I will not do that.
What I will do is say that while this film is definitely dark, set in isolation and does have foreboding tones to it; it is far from a horror film. What drives this film is the relationship between the boy in the film Pietari, and his father. The local’s relationship with the land and the over extension of outsiders into their livelihoods, culminating in Santa.
Helander has definitely paid a lot of attention to John Carpenter’s The Thing, and can this really be a bad point? It has a tone and general feel of The Thing, as well as the setting being very similar, the isolation, the stark landscape. It also carries the same themes of science possibly overreaching its boundaries, and things going wrong. Rare Exports is well paced, beautifully shot and expertly acted. The characters are believable and the premise is just perfect. This film won first prize at both the Sitges Fantastic film festival and Wales’s Abertoir Horror festival.
A film not for the kids this Christmas, but definitely for those with a sense of adventure and dark humour. Just sit back and let the Finn’s show you how Christmas is done!
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