rare exportsOscilloscope
2010
R

“The real Santa was totally different. The Coca-Cola Santa is just a hoax.”

Truth be told, I actually have something of a soft spot for Christmas. There is a good underlying Gothic aesthetic to this holiday, a kind of beautiful darkness mixed in with the whimsy and wonder that the season brings. There used to be a grand tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve, a tradition that lives on in the plethora of Christmas-themed horror movies to choose from.

Which brings us to Rare Exports. This is a movie that I was told I needed to watch since it was put out in 2010. What kept me from getting around to doing so until now was because this was a foreign subtitled movie. Yeah, yeah, lame excuse, I know. I’m not a big fan of reading along in movies, is all. Unless it’s a silent movie. But, I digress.

Of course, like a lot of the movies I’ve been watching recently, Rare Eports was available on the streaming service I utilize, and since t’was the season and all that, I figured it was time to settle in and give Rare Exports a look-see and find out what the hype is all about.

A young boy named Pietari and his friend Juuso think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus. However, this is a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend. hen Pietari’s father captures a feral old man in his wolf trap, the an may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing.

Rare Exports isn’t so much a Christmas horror movie as it is a dark fantasy based on folk tales. Okay scratch that–Rare Exports is really a coming-of-age tale of a young boy that happens to utilize a folk tale setting to tell the story. It’s the interaction between Pietari and his father that drives the story, with Pietari coming to terms with his situation and stepping up into being a man. Or whatever.

Of course, the nutmeg in the eggnog here is the way the story plays off of the concept of an ancient, more malevolent Santa, one that–by description and visual design–sounds more like Krampus. However, we never really see the (literally) big buy–only his horns sticking out of a gigantic block of ice. Which is enough to drive the sense of dread and tension. No, where the filmmakers succeeded in making Rare Exports a dark folk tale was the depiction of Santa’s elves–which looked like feral old men, not at all twisted and scary looking at first…but then the eyes and body language transmit otherwise. It’s subtle yet powerful.

There’s some very good use of shadow and keeping things in the darkness, along with the setting lending to a sense of isolation and palpable cold you can feel yourself while watching this. But, that’s not to say that everything is all grim and dark; there is a sense of humor here, especially when we get to the explosive climax and see what happens with all of Santa’s elves. It’s…not what you would expect, but it makes sense, really.

So, overall, I’m sorry it took me eight years to check out Rare Exports. It’s a well-made and greatly engaging dark Christmas folk tale, something that, if you haven’t seen this yet, you should do yourself a favor and do so. Recommended.

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