Even though summer is coming, you may want to catch Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) by Jalmari Helander next winter. That is, of course, if you don’t mind subverted-Santa movies.
Two shorts by Helander (Rare Exports, Inc. (2003) and The Official Rare Exports, Inc. Safety Instructions (2005)) have been turned into the story of the ‘real’ Santa Claus – an evil, inhuman old creature, who visits houses in search of something to munch on and, no, not cookies – children.
In a small Finnish village, young boy Pietari (Onni Tommila) lives with his father (Jorma Tommila). Deer-hunting is about the only entertainment in this depressing place, until a US expedition comes looking for something buried deep in the ground, something mysterious…Pietari quickly comes to the conclusion that Americans are looking for the real Santa, who had been captured by local people hundreds of years before, frozen in the ice block and buried underground, but if only the scientists knew what they were doing, digging up this malevolent creature.
Soon after their discovery, local children start to disappear and poor little Pietari has to face the devil Santa on his own…
Even though it’s quite obvious that the producers faced budgetary constraints, the atmosphere is still well built up and sustained by the cold scenography of Finnish (in reality – Norwegian) surroundings and the winter landscape. The depressing feel is compounded by the fact that Pietari’s family is broken and his father barely says a word when he walks out from the reindeer-slaughterhouse where he works.
Apparently, there are many linguistic jokes understandable only to Finnish people, but the movie is nevertheless quite funny for everyone, but in a very dark way. The concept of Santa and the scary portrayal of his elves as vicious old men – definitely weird, original and entertaining, in a twisted way. Something to look forward to after many hours of ‘sweet’ Christmas movies, perhaps?
84 mins. In Finnish and English.