Saturday, November 03, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) ***½

R, 84 min.
Director: Jalmari Helander
Writers: Jalmari Helander, Juuso Helander
Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ilmari Järvenpää, Peeter Jakobi

Everyone knows that after Halloween, we all move on to Christmas. It doesn’t matter that Christmas is still two months away or that in America there’s still another major holiday that falls in between the two. The retailers dictate that once we’re done scaring each other, we must then start buying each other gifts. “Rare Exports” is a movie that crosses that divide between Christmas and Halloween by giving us a frightening, yet quite comic, look at the legend of Santa Claus through glasses of a color no one ever imagined in this country.

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” comes from Finland, where they have a very different notion of Santa Claus than the button-nosed present-giver we like to think of. No, their Santa Claus, or at least the one in this movie, is more like Satan Claws. In it, a Russian research team is drilling on a mountain above a small village that sustains itself on an annual reindeer hunt. When the reindeer wind up slaughtered before the villagers can get o them, they blame the Russians and go up the mountain for revenge. But, there are no Russians left; and they’ve dug something up. Something big.

The movie is very dark, as you might be able to tell from my description. It’s also very funny in what it depicts the villagers eventually doing with their discovery. Be sure to check out the two short films that inspired the feature length in the disc’s special features. In the meantime, all the Christmas lore you’ve come to know is turned on its head and is quite creepy.

I don’t think the filmmakers go quite far enough with the horror aspects here. I would’ve liked to see their ideas go further with some horrific ramifications before the heroes eventually make things right. It’s as if they resolve their problems before the problems are even realized. While this works for them, it’d be nice for Santa to really scare the crap out of us first. This certainly isn’t your typical family holiday picture, and its more original than most things coming out of Hollywood these days. It’s definitely worth a screening.

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