Now I love all the usual suspects when it comes to Christmas movies. However, I also enjoy those that are also just a little different. When I first heard about Rare Exports, I thought the premise sounded very interesting. And when I finally acquired a copy prior to the official DVD release I wasn’t disappointed…for the most part.
Rare Exports is a 2010 horror film made in Finland. The story is simple as it centers around an archeological dig on the Korvatunturi Mountain. When they reach a certain level, they discover sawdust, which doesn’t make any sense. Well, that is except to their mysterious benefactor who reveals the mountain as the largest burial mound in the world. The sawdust was once used to keep ice cold. Could something be frozen in the ground? He hands out new instructions to all of the men on the dig. They can no longer smoke or curse and must wash behind their ears and he’s very serious. In hiding and watching the men are two young boys, Pietari (Onni Tommila) and Jusso (Ilmari Jarvenpaa). They soon flee and leave the compound through a hole in a fence. As explosions continue to happen, the local townsmen are ready for their annual reindeer herding, planning for the winter with the deer meat bringing in top dollar. However, the deer never show and are soon discovered to have been slaughtered. Something came through the hole in the fence. Russian wolves? Only young Pietari understands what’s happening. As it turns out, Santa Claus is not the jolly old man we believe him to be. Pietari is reading through graphic books depicting Santa as a bloodthirsty savage who enjoys beating and torturing children. As the townsmen storm the fence to confront the men at the dig, they find a large hole in the ground and everyone is gone. Later, back at Pietari’s house, his father has set a trap that ends up capturing an old man. Thinking him to be a dead American, it’s soon revealed he’s very much alive with a taste for gingerbread. Is he really Santa Claus or is Santa something even more horrific?
Going into this movie, it’s best to watch it in the original Finnish with subtitles. It adds to the overall bleak tone of the film, full of clouds and cold, snowy backgrounds. I’m fairly certain we don’t see a smile until the end of the movie and the only women we see are in the background. Pietari and his father, Rauno, are clearly broken. It’s implicated that the mother has passed away sometime recently. Rauno misses his wife and loves his son but he has emotionally shut down. As the movie progresses, everyone is clueless as heaters start missing, potato sacks disappear and children aren’t returning home. Pietari tries to get everyone to listen but he’s too young to know any better, right? Think again! He’s cute as he carries around his stuffed…whatever that thing was. He soon is wearing hockey gear and a board over his behind. He’s ready for this Santa Claus.
I won’t give away any spoilers other than to reveal that things are not quite what they seem. The blood and gore is almost non-existent. However, there are some very chilling scenes as the old man comes to life when Pietari enters the room. Then, as more old men begin to appear, a sense of panic and being overwhelmed reminds one of being surrounded by zombies. However, these zombies are carrying weapons and are clearly very intelligent with a primary mission. At less than 90 minutes and readily available on DVD, I highly recommend you add this to your 2012 Christmas viewing. It’s not cheery and leaves you wanting a little more at the end. No Christmas carols here but if you’re looking for a holiday scare, you’ll get a few. The only negative would be the ending. We never quite see what’s reveled in the warehouse and the ending…well, it does require you stretch your imagination a little. Still, there was something fun about watching a Finnish horror movie. After all, how many of those do you have in your collection?