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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

DVD Cover (Oscilloscope Pictures)
Genres / Traits:
Fairy Tales & Legends, Fantasy, Fantasy Comedy, Christmas
Director:
Jalmari Helander Jalmari Helander
Starring:
Onni Tommila Onni Tommila
Jorma Tommila Jorma Tommila
Tommi Korpela Tommi Korpela
Rauno Juvonen Rauno Juvonen
Per Christian Ellefsen Per Christian Ellefsen

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 19, 2011
Rare Exports is another one of those films that I've been meaning to check out for a while now, and what with Christmas coming up later this month, what better time than now to pop it in? Coming from Finland, the original home of Santa Claus, the film is a bizarre mix of genres that satires the holiday while also telling a highly original story. I can definitely say that I really enjoyed the movie, but unfortunately, I can't quite call it a perfect release. Almost perfect, yes.

It all takes place in Finland, naturally, where a group of Americans are excavating something out of a mountain. As it turns out, they are digging up the body of Santa Claus himself, but this is not the Santa that us Americans are accustomed to; no, this is the Finnish Santa, a mythological beast who killed bad little boys and girls. Unfortunately, these Americans did indeed manage to dig up his body, but there is just one little problem: he wasn't dead, just entrapped in a huge block of ice. When strange shit starts to happen around town, a little boy by the name of Pietari (Onni Tommila) tries to warn his father (Jorma Tommila) and daddy's friends (Tommi Korpela and Rauno Juvonen), but of course, nobody will listen. However, when a strange, bearded man is caught in one of father's traps, things start to get interesting.

Though it may sound like a by-the-books horror movie, Rare Exports actually mixes together a few genres and almost - dare I say it - comes across as a family movie. Sure, there are the obvious horror elements, but it's nothing more intense than what you'd see in something like Jurassic Park. At its core, the film is a fantasy movie with a touch of horror, a dash of satire on the Americanization of Christmas, and just a smidgen of comedy... and it's aimed at children just as much as it is at adults. Aside from a few glimpses of old man penis, this is a movie that I could see dragging out and watching with the kids come Christmas Eve.

This came as a shock to me, because everything I read about the movie prior to seeing it led me to believe that it was just another horror flick - a neat idea, but a horror flick none the less. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how wrong that was, and honestly, I thought that this approach worked out better than a traditional horror flick would have. The characters are endearing, the plot moves along logically and at a great pace, and again, this is the kind of movie that the kids could enjoy just as much as the adults.

Now, I did have one complaint about the movie, and that is a result of the last twenty minutes or so. We are given a great storyline, it all leads up to the grand finale, and then the movie just rushes to wrap things up. We never get to see Santa himself, the other problems are wrapped up in moments with no real effort or problems, and it just seemed like the filmmakers were in a hurry to finish the movie. I won't spoil everything that happens here, so I'll go back to the aforementioned Jurassic Park for an example: imagine if the dinosaurs were unleashed and all hell broke loose, and then the heroes pushed a button on the computer, causing all of the dinosaurs to instantaneously keel over. It's not quite that bad here, but it is close. A little more time spent here could have made a great film a classic film.

Still, I enjoyed the movie, and I think most of you who are looking for something new to watch this Christmas will feel the same. It's got just the right amount of horror elements, but it is also a family-friendly fantasy that the whole family could enjoy... if your family doesn't mind a few glimpses of penis, that is. I don't think that it will become a staple in anybody's holiday traditions, but it will certainly make for one good holiday movie night and I could even see breaking it out every other year or so. 7/10.
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