A Christmas film devoid of any schmaltzy sentimentality and cheesy clichés is a glorious gift indeed and so often it is the case that simply injecting a bit of fear into your festive film can lead to wondrous results.
In between the cheap as tinsel TV movies and the overblown Hollywood hogwash movies like Gremlins, Scrooged and The Nightmare Before Christmas stand out with a dark edge and twisted sense of humour which counter balances the over abundance of cute kids, gift giving and all important life lessons that need to be learned.
Rare Exports is one of those movies, perfectly walking the line between family friendly fun and horror movie moments it keeps in enough scares and frights, real life drama and odd ball European elements which perfectly sit alongside moments of pure fantasy and magic to rival any big budget Hollywood Christmas movie.
It is the week before Christmas and in the depths of Lapland’s Korvatunturi Mountains lies a dark ancient secret that one eccentric Billionaire and his team of excavational scientists are busily bringing back to life.
At the same time in the small rural town beneath the mountain the young and nervy Pietari has just made a sinister discovery of his own whilst digging through his books on ancient Christmas folklore. It seems the image of a jolly old man who gives kids gifts is a lie, the real Santa Claus is much more interested in the children on the naughty list and making sure they pay for their bad deeds.
Before Pietari can tell anyone something is unleashed from the mountain which goes on a rampage, killing all the reindeer his father and his friends hunt to make their living. Marching up to the scientist station to demand reimbursement the ragtag group of gruff hunters find everyone is mysteriously gone. However just as all seems lost one of their traps catches someone very special, someone with a long white beard, someone who the hunters believe will grantee them lots and lots of ransom money.
Written and directed by Finish native Jalmari Helander Rare Export is a full length prequel to his two wonderfully original shorts which he created to be a Christmas gift from a company to its clients. Gaining cult status on the web and winning him bags of awards the full length version has done the same already winning Best Film and Best Director for Helander at Sitges International Film Festival.
Coming to the UK just in time to provide an antidote to the turkey’s on offer over the Christmas period the film runs as if Guillermo del Toro had directed Santa Claus: The Movie. A brilliant coming of age story which starts off slowly styled like a documentary about harsh Finnish family life it builds to an amazing action packed climax where bullets and children fly in a race against time before Santa claws his way out.
The cast, interestingly consisting of only men, are great especially the children and the scenery is spectacular. The particularly European sensibility which forms a major part of the films charm and individuality does lead to some strange scenes including naked old men and hacked up reindeer and although the film has a wide appeal this plus the horror elements may be a little too much for very little ones.
Rare Export is a rare gem sparkling blood red in the cinematic Christmas sky and should be seen by all kids and grown up kids who fancy something truly original and magical which will entertain and enthral them in equal measures.
It is also the perfect film for any fright film fan craving a little slice of ho-ho-horror during the festive period.