Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rare-Exports-A-Chrismtas-Tale-UK-PosterRare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) Oscilloscope Pictures/Horror-Comedy RT: 84 minutes Rated R (language, gruesome images, frightening moments, full frontal male nudity) Director: Jalmari Helander Screenplay: Jalmari Helander Music: Juri Seppa Cinematography: Mika Orasmaa , Release date: December 3, 2010 , Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ilmari Jarvenpaa, Peeter Jakobi, Jonathan Hutchings, Risto Salmi, Jens Sivertsen, Sigmund Boe. Spoken in Finnish w/English subtitles

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I think that Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale may be the weirdest Christmas-themed movies that I've ever seen! I'm not exaggerating, this Finnish import is really weird, it belongs in a museum someplace. Fortunately, I think weird is a good thing and this flick wears that distinction like a badge of honor. We've already seen Santa Clause as a mad slasher (Silent Night, Deadly Night) and a foul-mouthed, alcoholic lowlife (Bad Santa), now we get to see Santa Claus as some sort of evil entity that kills naughty children. The movie opens with a mining company discovering something buried in the Korvartunturi mountain, a scientist (Hutchings) orders them to excavate the mountain that he refers to as "the largest burial mound in the world."

A group of reindeer herders live right near the mountain and they're preparing for the annual reindeer hunt, it's their only source of income. They're horrified when they discover something has mutilated all the reindeer in the area. Young Pietari (Onni Tommila) thinks he knows who's responsible for the slaughter, but his gruff father (Jorma Tommila) has little patience for his son's imaginary theories. The boys believes that the culprit is........Santa Claus! We're not talking about the jolly fat man depicted in several Coca Cola ads, but the benevolent boogeyman who sends his vile creatures, Krampus (aka elves), to capture bad children. Pietari's theory is supported by the sudden and unexplained disappearances of children and supplies from the small, isolated village. The miners have unearthed a huge block of ice with a gigantic pair of horns sticking out, then the locals capture a naked, long white-bearded, old man who they suspect is Santa Claus, They figure that they could sell him to the scientist in charge and recoup their financial losses (about $85,000 American). RED LIGHT!!! I am stopping the description right here and now, you'll have to see the movie for yourself to find out what happens next. I can tell you that you won't be sorry.

Rare-Exports-A-Christmas-Tale-Movie-PosterObviously, Rare Exports is a one-of-a kind Christmas movie, it will appeal to the same crowd that likes bizarre holiday flicks like The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). This one's much, much darker and it could only come from the Scandinavian part of the world. The snowy landscapes and the sense of isolation, in both the physical and emotional sense, are a dead giveaway! Pietari reads through reference books and other texts to find anything that would support his theory. The pictures that he sees is his book are macabre, they depict a monstrous Santa Claus that punishes bad children with severe beatings and other horrible acts of violence. The boy is convinced that he's right, but the real challenge is convincing the adults in the small village who believe that wolves killed the reindeer. It doesn't take them too long to discover the real cause behind the mysterious goings-on in their little village. I like that Rare Exports is an original idea, one that I don't think Americans would have the courage to try. This one is definitely a cult movie, it's not going to appeal to the mainstream audiences that flock to see Arthur Christmas, Elf or The Polar Express. This is NOT a family movie by any definition of the term (unless it's the Addams Family, snap snap!), Rare Exports is an adults-only kind of deal. Another good thing is that the filmmakers don't drag out the idea, the movie runs a lean 84 minutes and it's the perfect amount of time for the filmmakers to tell their story.

This movie is actually inspired by two short films that director Jalmari Helander released online, Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports: Official Safety Instructions (2005), and as far as I know, they're still available to watch and it might be worthwhile. I haven't watched them yet because I just learned of their existence, but it might just be something that I do this week. Yes, you can count me among the fans of Rare Exports, it's too strange to dislike! The performances are perfectly natural, most of the actors are from Finland and their movies haven't really been released in the US, but it seems like they all come from a place like the one depicted in this film. They're completely believable as people who live far from more populated areas. The bleak setting perfectly corresponds with the tone of the movie, similar to the way that the bleak landscapes of Sweden were ideal for Let the Right One In (2008). Rare Exports plays like somebody's nightmare, it could only be the product of a warped mind, somebody who doesn't like Christmas very much. This one would be at the top of the Grinch's must-see list! One could argue that this is a black comedy and they'd have a valid point, some of it is funny in a very dark way. Personally, I had a blast watching this movie the other night. Even my wife, who hates horror movies, thought it was interesting and unusual. Believe me, that does count for a great big something! If you're feeling fed up with the holiday season, you might want to check out this flick, it'll appeal to everybody's inner Grinch!



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