I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about this one since it came out a few years ago. It’s a Finnish film (with some English) and apparently more of a dark family film than an outright horror. Obviously there are violent elements, but not the gore of “Black Xmas” or “Don’t Open Till’ Christmas”. I’d meant to watch it last year but just didn’t get around to it. So, does it live up to the hype ?
The story revolves around an archeological dig hired by a mysterious (and wealthy) businessman who is searching for … Something. They do indeed find something frozen in a mountain and are eventually killed while trying to unearth it. Meanwhile a father and son have caught an old naked man in a trap and set about trying to figure out who he is. Upon deducing that he is actually Santa Claus, they set out to sell him to the wealthy businessman while trying to avoid hordes of elves who will stop at nothing to protect their “boss”. Pretty awesome plot, no ?
While that description may sound complex or convoluted, it doesn’t come across that way in the film. The filmmakers do a great job juggling storylines and keeping you guessing until all is revealed. A somewhat questionable (but ultimately satisfying) twist ending results and ties up the films’ multiple storylines nicely.
The acting is well done, albeit with the usual caveats for a child actor. I wouldn’t say he’s irritating or anything, but certainly not the most interesting character. Probably my favourite element was using the one Finnish guy who could speak fractured English as a translator while trying to negotiate the sale of Santa with the businessman. It was a well done bit of comedy and added nicely to the story.
It’s interesting to see so many recent Christmas-related foreign horror films. This one is a great example, as is “Inside”, a well done French film that I’ll be revisiting in this marathon in a couple of days. I’m also looking forward to watching “Sint”, a Dutch film that also tells a much darker version of the Santa Claus mythos. It’s interesting to see different takes on the subject from different parts of the world. Each have their own flavour and visual flair, lending itself well to the subject matter.
As implied by the story and reviews, “Rare Exports” is a delight. It works both as a Christmas horror film and just a fun film in general. While not particularly scary it’s never boring, a problem that can sometimes affect films like this. I certainly look forward to watching this again next year, it’s earned it’s place on the ultimate “12 Slays of Christmas” list. Maybe next year we can all pitch in and buy our own Santa !! Probably not though, we don’t have that kind of money.