Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, 2010.
Directed by Jalmari Helander.
Starring Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ilmari Jarvenpaa, Peeter Jakobi, Jonathan Hutchings.
A supernatural Santa Claus is unearthed during an excavation in the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains.
If you fancy something a bit different to watch this Christmas, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is the film for you. This eerie Finnish thriller follows young Pietari Kontio (Onni Tommila), as he discovers clues proving the existence of a blood thirsty, demonic Santa Claus, whose body has been unearthed in an archaeological dig.
The idea for this film is based on Finnish folklore; that Santa Claus is not the lovable, chubby, gift-giving man that we know of. Instead he is a demonic creature who tortures children for being naughty at Christmas time. In parts of Italy, Germany and Austria, young men take part in a parade and dress up as these devilish creatures as part of a strange Christmas tradition.
Set in the beautiful, isolated, snowy slopes of Finland, the constant threat of wolf attacks and lack of food for the people of the village contribute to an increasing sense of danger and make Pietri’s plight to keep safe from the demonic Santa even more desperate.
The creators of Rare Exports produce some breath taking cinematography; old-fashioned spooky lighting is aptly used, particularly in the scenes with the suspected evil Santa Claus. There are also some impressive special effects used towards the end of the feature, which manage to work seamlessly alongside the gritty, naturalistic landscape.
The adorable Tommila plays the perfect young protagonist. Motherless and living in a wooden hut with his emotionally distant father, little Pietri still remains plucky and determined not to fall victim to evil Santa. Despite being bullied by his best friend and constantly scorned by his Father, Pietri still shows love for them and tries his best to protect them.
There is an unusual yet refreshing feel to Rare Exports. It is essentially an adult horror film with a few sprinklings of gore and some extremely gothic, dark themes. Simultaneously, it evokes a lovely childlike quality as the audience view the story through Pietri’s eyes. The mixing of these themes makes this Christmas/thriller genre-hybrid work extremely well. Rare Exports is a triumph for Finnish cinema, a thrill to watch and highly recommended for late night Christmas viewing.