On the fourth day of our 12 Days of Christmas Carnage, we get the criminally under-seen Finnish horror-fairy tale, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Truth be told, Finland is known more for hockey and death metal than its contribution to the horror genre. But in the case of Rare Exports, it’s a case of quality over quantity. Fans of the more recently released Krampus should enjoy Rare Exports.
In the Korvatunturi fell, bordering Finland and Russia, British researchers believe they have discovered an ancient burial mound. According to legend, the Korvantunturi is the birthplace of Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. Shortly after the research team excavates the mound, dozens of reindeer are found mauled and local children start disappearing. Young Pietari, who lives with his father on a reindeer farm, believes the researchers have unleashed the real ‘Santa Claus.’
Rare Exports A Refreshingly Dark Christmas Fairy TaleRare Exports is less a horror movie, and more a fairy tale in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm. Jalmari Helander, who pulls double-duty as writer and director, spins a uniquely dark Christmas fairy tale. What’s buried deep inside that Finnish fell? You know, but not necessarily how Helander is going to deliver on the idea. What transpires in Rare Exports is a twisted and fun re-invention of what you think you know about Santa Claus. To be honest, there’s no deeper meaning or subtext for the movie to get weighed down by. This is Christmas candy for horror fans.
Rare Exports is indeed a rare movie that calls back to great horror movies of the past, but absolutely tells its own story.
John Carpenters The Thing clearly informs Rare Exports’ basic premise and tone. We’ve seen the idea of doomed researchers resurrecting dead things from frozen graves. But Rare Exports merely uses Carpenter’s concept as a launching pad. Helander doesn’t allow his vision to get mired in homage. Rare Exports is indeed a rare movie that calls back to great horror movies of the past, while still telling its own story.
A Picturesque Horror FableIn addition to spinning a simple but wildly inventive story, Rare Exports is a gorgeous movie to watch. Don’t think horror movies can look good? Think again. Cinematographer Mika Orasmaa frames some beautiful shots of the Finnish landscape in Rare Exports. It puts you so much into the movie that you can almost feel how cold the characters would be in the setting. It’s Osramaa’s ability to really plug into the spare desolation of the movie’s setting that calls back to The Thing.
Rare Exports is the kind of horror movie that doesn’t need to coast on gratuitous violence.Aside from some quick shots of mutilated reindeer, Rare Exports is light on gore and graphic violence. Most of its R-rating can be attributed to a handful of F-bombs dropped by characters and some ‘old-man’ Santa butt shots. This should be neither here nor there for audiences. Rare Exports is the kind of horror movie that doesn’t need to coast on gratuitous violence.
None of the Cast Are On The Naughty List
Movies that overly rely on child actors can be hit or miss. Fortunately, not only is Onni Tommila, who plays Pietari, a delight to watch, his character is essential to getting the most out of Rare Exports. Like any good fairy tale, Rare Exports is a story told through the eyes of its child protagonist. Tommila lends the proceedings a believable naïveté that makes everything that unfold plausible within the movie’s own mythology.
Rare Exports Is Essential Christmas Horror ViewingIn less-skilled hands, Rare Exports could have been a mind-numbingly stupid movie. Instead, Rare Exports feels like a refreshing spin on familiar Christmas narratives that horror fans should lap up. Thought it’s a dark fairy tale, Rare Exports doesn’t unnecessarily wallow in excessive violence or cruelty. As a result, it’s a horror movie that could be a great introduction to the genre for younger audiences.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A-