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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

  Tags: action, christmas, comedic, dark fantasy, evil santa, Finland, Finnish, foreign, fun, Ilmari Järvenpää, Jalmari Helander, Jonathan Hutchings, Jorma Tommila, killer santa, Onni Tommila, Peeter Jakobi, Per Christian Ellefsen, Rare Exports, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Rauno Juvonen, Risto Salmi, santa claus, Tommi Korpela

Your rating: None Average: 6.5 (4 votes)
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Jalmari Helander
84 minutes
Per Christian Ellefsen, Peeter Jakobi, Tommi Korpela, Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Risto Salmi, Rauno Juvonen, Ilmari Järvenpää

While America busies itself with remakes and profitable sequels, those in search of something extra-ordinary as of late have had to look over endless miles of oceans to far, far away places…like Finland, the birth place of the dark fantasy thriller Rare Exports.  Soon to be hitting limited US theaters, Exports brings a welcomed (and original) addition to the evil Santa subgenre, despite a marginal list of shortcomings.
Taking place within the Korvatunturi Mountains on the Russia/Finland border, Exports tells the story of a young boy named Pietri, who believes the legends that Santa Claus himself lies dormant within the range.  Not long after an archaeological dig gone awry on the Russian side of the mountains, all of the young children within the surrounding town go missing on Christmas morning, with Pietri being the only one left.  The shit doth hittith the fan as a naked, chester looking creepshow, who Pietri believes to be jolly ol' Saint Nick, is found within a wolf trap outside his home.  Along with his father and a small group of hunters, Pietri will discover the macabre truth behind the long hidden legend of Santa Claus.
With Christmas being the last holiday most people associate with our beloved genre, I’m always on the lookout for another yearly treat to fit in between such viewings as Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night.  Though not quite living up to the hype generated on the festival circuit, director Jalmari Helander has utilized what appears to be a limited budget to create an extremely well shot film filled with some truly creepy imagery along with strong effects work and believable acting from the ensemble cast, including Omni Tommila as Pietri.  Weaving together a story with a quirky group of characters and some entertaining twists, the film’s set up is packed with promise that it falls just short of delivering on, but still has enough charisma and behind the scenes talent to hook the audience in.
Told from a child’s prospective, and featuring a healthy dose of dark humor, Rare Exports has been frequently compared to the likes of Gremlins, Monster Squad, The Goonies, and any number of classic 80s gems.  And these comparisons aren’t without their merit.  However, the main difference between all of these aforementioned classics and this one is that they all had this undeniable sense of fun that withstood repeat viewings.  Rare Exports comes close, but in the end it just never hit that level for me.  And while I would hardly classify this as a family friendly film, it wouldn’t have hurt if they went just a TAD more mean spirited and grim, of which the materials lends itself to.
Clocking in at a scant 80 minutes, Exports left me wishing they had fleshed it out for at least another twenty minutes.  I wanted more, dag nabbit!  Though on the plus side, I guess it’s better to complain that a movie is too short, than complain about it over staying its welcome. Probably due to budgetary reasons, we never get the big reveal that the filmmakers tease us with, so I have my fingers crossed for a sequel of epic epicness. 
Though it never reaches its full potential, Rare Exports still remains an entertainingly lurid little Christmas treat thanks to its great production value and fresh take on the ever popular evil Santa subgenre that should fit in well within everyone’s holiday horror collection.

Posted on November 28, 2010 - 7:02pm | Johnny D