[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005D82VM4][/pullquote] Santa. He’s a jolly fat man who loves to spread joy and bring gifts to all, right? But what if that’s not right? What if there were older, truer myths, where Santa is all about punishing the naughty rather than giving to the nice? What if he’s some kind of ancient, vengeful demon, who tears naughty children to pieces and who, hundreds of years ago was captured and entombed in ice deep below a mountain in Finland? And what if some greedy and misguided miners had dug him up and set him free?
That’s the premise of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Set in a tiny settlement in the far north of Finland, the protagonist is Pietari, a small nervous boy. He still believes in Santa, much to the amusement of his more streetwise friend Juuso. But his belief means he’s the only one who can see what’s happening. Nobody else understands why all the reindeer, who the town were relying on for money and food, have been slaughtered, or why children are starting to go missing¦
Rare Exports takes this unlikely premise and goes sprinting off with it for all its worth. In many places it plays like a slasher flick. There are lots of tense moments where you just know something bad is about to happen and are watching between your fingers. The only difference is, instead of Freddy or Jason, it’s Santa lurking offscreen. However, it is Christmas, so the movie holds off on the gore (though it must have been tempting at times).
As well as that, it’s quite a touching story as Pietari bonds with his father. To begin, Pietari is a bit of a wimpy kid, and his dad a slightly distant, tough northerner. Pietari finds his courage and he and his father bond as they join forces to, well, take out Father Christmas. Both Onni Tomila as Pietari and Jorma Tomila as his father are really good.
As you may have guessed, Rare Exports doesn’t take itself especially seriously and with a running time of just 72 minutes, it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.