I’ve always been a bit of a grinch when it comes to Christmas. I never really could get into the holiday spirit of things, especially after one fateful Christmas. More importantly and more so than the holiday, I hate Christmas entertainment. If I hear All I Want for Christmas (Is You) or watch another awful Shrek Christmas special on TV, I’m going to start throwing coal at random strangers. Other than Scrooged, Jingle All The Way and The Nightmare Before Christmas, the sick filth that is holiday films should be banned and burned from existence.
But low and behold, a Christmas film about a murderous Santa Claus wreaking havoc and kidnapping children. This should be interesting.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale takes place in a remote town in Finland where an archeological dig unearths the real Santa Claus. Soon after, children start disappearing and all the livestock is slaughtered, leaving a boy and his father to save what’s left of the town.
Writer/Director Jalmari Helander delivers a well-crafted film that far exceeds the expectations. Despite its ridiculous premise, Helander gives the film substance with charming characters and dialogue rather than going the hokey route. The frozen rural land of Finland provides for a beautiful backdrop that’s both awe inspiring and frightening, offering a nice balance of glee and tension. Santa himself is as demonic and terrifying as any film terrors without being as violent or gruesome.
Rare Exports, although short (clocking in at 84 minutes) still manages to squeeze in a lot of substance for such a shallow premise. There’s a lot to be said of Pietari and his relationship with his father, as well as the economical issues with the town. Once Santa comes into the picture, it still takes a little while for the action to pick up, but once it does it delivers some tense scenes filled with both panic and lunacy.
The acting in this film is surprisingly top notch, with young Pietari (played by Onni Tommila) delivering a memorable performance. He managed to be both tragic yet adorable, providing for a lot of the films lighter/funnier moments. The man playing “Santa” delivered a frightening performance, delivering a fearsome performance without so much as a growl from him.
The only complaint (if you could consider it a complaint) is that it wasn’t as violent as I hoped it would be. When you’re talking about a premise as an evil Santa Claus, you would hope the blood flow and creative deaths would be abundant. Instead, Helander decided to play it like a fairy tale, being rather dark but still tame enough to now psychologically f*ck up children. Though in the end I believe it was a better decision for it not to be as violent, I still would of loved to see Santa wreak more havoc than he did
I walked in expecting a shoddy B Movie that was both ridiculous and mindless. Instead, I got a beautiful film with great production values and as charming as the dickens (whatever that means). It’s a shallow film premise, yea, but it still manages to deliver a solid story with solid characters in ludicrous circumstances. Rare Exports is highly entertaining and wildly charming, and I encourage everybody to see it with those you love. I know the Bolivar household has a new Christmas tradition, and I can’t wait to have kids so I can f*ck them up psychologically with this movie.