Sunday, December 6, 2015

#1,938. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Directed By: Jalmari Helander

Starring: Jorma Tommila, Peeter Jakobi, Onni Tommila

Tag line: "This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus"

Trivia: This movie is based on a short film, made by its director in 2003

You Better watch out… 
You better not cry… 
You better not pout… 
I’m telling you why… 
Santa Claus is coming to town

Watch Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a Fantasy / horror film directed by Jalmari Helander, and the above lyrics to the classic holiday tune "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" will sound more sinister than they ever have before.

The trouble begins when a team of American excavators, led by a millionaire named Riley (Per Christian Ellefsen), travels to Finland and drills into a snow-covered mountain that, according to folklore, is actually the world’s largest burial mound, the final resting place of a legendary figure

As this work continues, the locals in the town below, many of whom make their living off of the area’s reindeer population, find themselves facing a long, hard winter when this year's entire herd is mysteriously slaughtered. Most people, including Rauno (Jorma Tommila) and Aimo (Tommi Korpela), think the American crew is to blame for this misfortune (they're convinced the excavation drove a pack of hungry wolves down from the mountain), but Rauno’s son Pietari (Onni Tommila) believes the real killer is none other than Santa Claus himself!

That's because Pietari knows Santa isn't the sweet, good-natured old man you see in the movies. In fact, the real Santa is downright evil, kidnapping bad little boys and girls on Christmas Eve and dragging them off to be "punished". Somehow, this real-life Saint Nicholas, who, centuries earlier, had been lured into the ice and buried under an enormous mountain of earth, has returned, and is continuing his diabolical "tradition". 

While his father and the others try to convince the Americans to compensate them for the damages, Pietari is reading up on Santa Claus, hoping to find something that might help them defeat this most unusual foe. But as everyone will soon discover, there's more buried under that mountain than Jolly St. Nick!

Released in 2010, Rare Exports puts a whole new spin on the Santa / Christmas mythos, weaving a tale that is positively riveting. We realize early on, when Rauno and his neighbors stumble upon the bloody remains of hundreds of reindeer, that all is not as it seems. The adults are busy blaming wolves, but Pietari finds a very human footprint amidst the carnage, which, for him, is proof enough that the killer was none other than Santa Claus. 

As with most movies of this ilk, nobody listens to poor Pietari, and not even the discovery of a naked elderly man with a long white beard, who miraculously survived a fall into a deadly wolf trap, can convince the others that Santa is 1. Real, and 2. A nasty force to be reckoned with. In a nice twist, young Pietari is not only the smartest character in Rare Exports (he is the only one who figures out what’s really happening), he’s also the bravest, as he proves in the movie’s electrifying (though occasionally over-the-top) finale, a showdown so crazy you’ll have to see it to believe it.

Darkly funny and occasionally frightening, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is sure to become a regular fixture on your Holiday viewing schedule.

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