In 2010 everyone will believe in Santa Claus
Running Time: 84 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Finland, France, Norway, Sweden
The Christmas season only truly begins with the coming of the first Christmas movie however Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is not the usual naff, over-sentimental festive fodder but a macabre mix of a dark fairytale and an action adventure.
Rare Exports takes place in Finland’s Korvatunturi mountains where creepy entrepreneur Riley (Ellefsen) is trying to extract a mysterious object from a huge burial mound. Nearby, Pietari (Onni Tommila), who lives with his father (Jorma Tommila), is the only one to suspect that it is actually the real-life Santa Claus that they are trying to unearth. This Santa Claus isn’t the one from the Coca Cola adverts but the unforgiving half-man, half-monster of centuries-old fables, and soon, the community is terrorised by the mysterious creature’s little helpers.
Jalmari Helander’s movie can roughly be split into three parts: initial scene-setting drama featuring great characterisation and beautiful mountain vistas; the measured discovery segment; and, finally, the action spectacle as a plan is put into place. The drama is tender and deep as we learn about the community of oddball reindeer breeders and their relationships, the action set-pieces are fun and uplifting and the humour varies effortlessly between the understated and the sublimely ridiculous.
Young Onni Tommila has to be given huge credit for an amazingly mature and believable performance as the child turned all-action hero. Additionally, the three fathers – Piiparinen (Juvonen), Amimi (Korpela) and Rauno – share great chemistry and most of the funniest bits of the movie involve their one-liners and subtle sight gags.
In time, Rare Exports should become a Christmas cult classic in the vein of The Nightmare Before Christmas, because it’s a little bit different and it’s a film that entertains but also respects the audiences right to want better than the usual formulaic turkeys.
It's Got: Gingerbread, the world's youngest all-action hero, wonderfully dark humour
It Needs: A slightly less gory version for older kids, I think they'd love the dark humour
An endearingly ridiculous festive treat from Scandinavia that’s certainly more Brothers Grimm than Miracle on 34th Street. It’s a refreshingly unsentimental movie that mercifully lets you keep your Christmas dinner down.