Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Directed by Jalmari Helander
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good.
So be good for goodness sake!
You better watch out!
Better not cry!
Better not pout!
I'm telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.
Oh those lyrics turn from jolly happy to creepy scary after you've seen Jalmari Helander's film Rare Exports. But it's scary happy good times for all.
Rare Exports is that rare holiday gem that makes you feel the holiday spirit. I mentioned Rare Exports and the viral shorts that gave birth to this feature a while ago. Having seen the shorts, I'll admit it took away from the film a bit for me. Which is why I'm going to grade this film on people who've seen the shorts and those who haven't.
Not since Gremlins has a Christmas themed mild horror film put a smile on my face. Rare Exports takes the traditional little boy staple, dashes in a far away land and throws in a few naked but angry Santas to turn in one of the most entertaining holiday movies this year.
Rare Exports gladly twists your red cheeked, white beard, jolly fat man into the most menacing threat on the other side of the Atlantic. Blending fairy tale into a bizarro Christmas tale, Rare Exports gives you that feeling of being a kid on Christmas morning. What more would you want?
A film for those who think they don't believe in Santa Claus anymore
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up!
This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.
If you watched the shorts, you kind of know what the deal is. For the uninitiated let me explain. In the mountains of Finland, miners find something interesting buried underneath the ice. The powerful Sub Zero Corporation led by Riley know what they've discovered. The legend is real, the true origin of Santa Claus.
The film introduces us to youngling Pietari, who is a cute, clever boy who seems to know more about whats going on then the adults. He lives with his father who with other locals live a quiet life in a town bordering the dig site. It's not long before Pietari, his father and a couple of rag tag local hunters discover something isn't right with Sub Zero's dig. After slaughtered reindeer are found, the hunters soon become the hunted.
Pietari knows what's the what and after the group discover and hold ransom a "Santa" they have to deal with more than they bargained for. I don't want to give much away but suffice it to say its a journey of boy cries wolf, wolf attacks and boy grows up to be a man and saves the day!
Many of the characters are colorful with Pietari (Onni Tommila) stealing the show. His father and his friends are gingerbread eating entrepreneurs and Juuso (Pietari's BFF) is the skeptical older kid. But the most shocking character of them all is seeing Santa Claus (Peeter Jakobi) portrayed as a blood thirsty, children eating wild animal. In any other context, the sight of a skinny, naked old man with a long gray beard and a menacing stare would mean an immediate call to Chris Hansen and his To Catch A Predator crew. But Rare Exports takes it to a whole new level.
The folklore of an evil Santa who was so sadistic that he had to be buried in a icy jail is hilariously awesome. As the movie progresses, we soon realize Santa isn't alone and our locals will have to use some skill to survive December 25th.
The good of Rare Exports is it flips the old happy go lucky Christmas story as it unleashes some crazed looney Santas. I liked the fact it was unique in its approach of creating a mythos of the Santa legend. All Christmas stories be it films or TV are so sappy and corny and Rare Exports is not an exception. A dramedy scene involving Pietari and his father feels like Lifetime movie of the week as you can get. There are a few ha ha's that keep it lighthearted in that PG-13 sorta way. Kids 13 or older will yuck it up yet cheer for Pietari as he saves the day and that's the fun of Rare Exports. It's like Home Alone but with naked Santas.
The bad in my opinion is that if YOU'VE SEEN THE SHORTS, you kinda lose a bit of the magic of this film. Rare Exports becomes a sort of prequel to the shorts as you know exactly how the film will end. The beauty of the shorts were in their National Geographic approach to documenting the catching and packaging of a Santa. Having seen them, the ending became a little lackluster and very anticlimactic.
Also, the movie has a very much Spielberg feel to it but without the Spielberg multi million dollar effects. The buildup to seeing "the great threat that could jeopardize Christmas" ends with a mild exploding whimper. As much as I like the indie approach of the let your imagination run wild, I kind of wanted to see some serious battles and a wild, insane ending.
So should you see Rare Exports?
I'd have to recommend it as their aren't many Christmas themed movies coming out this month. Rare Exports feels like 80s Holiday horror-omedy. It's clever, it's cute and it's a family film for the more adventurous film goer.
Folks, this isn't Santa's Slay or a Silent Night, Deadly Night. It's a indie film with a wild imagination. Santa Claus has been rebooted. And he's hungry for some boys and girls on the naughty list.
Slaughted reindeer count?
Full frontal Santas ::shivers::
The real Santa
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
Rare Exports opens this Friday in NYC at the IFC Center. It opens in Austin, LA, MN, Pasadena and Portland on 12/10 and the rest of the country on 12/17.
If you want full enjoyment out of the film DO NOT SEE THE SHORTS!!!! If you've already watched them, it's still all good. Think of this film as a prequel to the awesomeness of the shorts and it's worth seeing.
Hmm I think I've been kind of naughty this year. C'mon Santa! Bring it!
Rating (if you've seen the shorts):