“I don’t want to READ a movie, I want to WATCH a movie!” is my typical impersonation of a close-minded asshole who isn’t willing to go see a foreign film. Although I say this is my impression of an asshole, this is also sometimes how I feel about movies. Whoa, guys, relax! You all know that I see tons of foreign movies! It’s mostly just when I’m sitting at home and there are things to distract me like a dog or my phone or, well, I guess the list of distractions are quite long. In fact, I had to watch this movie TWICE to make sure I got everything, and even then, I’m still a little foggy on some of the details. Okay, you caught me, I tried to look up a synopsis on Wikipedia and that’s the only reason I watched Rare Exports twice. In case you haven’t really noticed my patterns of watching movies, especially movies that I don’t like, that the last thing I want to do is watch it again, or write about it, or even think about the fact that I watched it. Being able to watch Rare Exports twice is probably already telling that I enjoyed the film, and you’d be right with that assumption. Not only did I enjoy it, I found it to be a creepy, twisted fairy tale that I think every horror fan should watch around the holidays.
You can’t read that! It’s not even in English!
Somewhere in Finland, we see some sort of businessman giving orders to keep drilling into a mountain because he thinks his crew is getting close to whatever it is he’s looking for. Pietari (Onni Tommila) just happens to overhear this news, and even though he’s just a little kid, he thinks he knows exactly what these men are after: Santa Claus. Not the traditional Santa, but the Santa that Pietari has only seen in books, a more demonic/magical figure who focuses on punishing all the naughty children. Adding credence to what Pietari thinks is actually going on are the mysterious human footprints he sees on the roof outside of his window and seeing hundreds of reindeer corpses with human footprints nearby, even though his father just blames it on wolves. TYPICAL! Pietari’s father builds a wolf pit to try to trap any wolves that might be wandering around killing reindeer, but instead, the only victim to this wolf pit is a skinny old bearded guy who doesn’t seem to know how to talk. Pietari thinks that this guy is the real Santa, his father thinks he’s one of the people helping dig out the nearby mountain, but the truth isn’t as simple as that and is far more dangerous. I’m going to end it right there, because I thought this movie was a lot of fun, it’s on Netflix Instant, and it’s only 82 minutes. If you REALLY want to know what happens, just watch it, ya dingus!
Yeah you’re LUCKY there weren’t any wolves in there, or I would’ve been PISSED.
Do you guys remember a movie from 2003 called “Darkness Falls”? That movie was a giant pile of shit. Even though Darkness Falls was awful, it took an idea that we’re all familiar with, the Tooth Fairy, and twisted the legend around to make her sound like an evil bitch. Even though the movie as a whole was terrible, the opening scene involving a little kid hearing the Tooth Fairy in his room was pretty creepy. Take that idea of twisting a wholesome fairy tale, change Tooth Fairy to Santa, and make the entire movie good instead of just the first five minutes, and that’s what you get with Rare Exports. Even though this movie might not have actually scared me, because I know that Santa’s not real in any capacity (right), the whole thing had a creepy vibe to it. Have this little kid being the only one who knew what the real threat was and no one believing him, as well as his apprehension to tell anyone what was going on for fear of being mocked, were all things that I found really engaging about the movie. Also, by having our protagonist be a little kid, you kind of saw everything going around him through his eyes, and there were even times where you agreed with adults and thought maybe everything going on was just a weird series of events. Another one of the movie’s strengths was that it built upon information that the audience would already know, that being the concept of Santa, and were able to supplement enough additional information to sway the audience down a slightly different path, one that was much darker and more sinister.
Who doesn’t love a good gingerbread cookie?
This movie reminded a lot of movies like District 9, or even more so, TrollHunter. All of these movies required a bare minimum of prior knowledge, like the existence of aliens or the idea that trolls are only in storybooks, once the film and characters establish that this stuff is real, it takes these concepts 100% seriously. There’s nothing really tongue-in-cheek about these movies, and it really pays off. What is Santa really was a giant, horned wizard who was frozen at the bottom of a lake to keep him from eating children? FUCKING TERRIFYING. Onni Tommila was fantastic in the lead role, playing a hesitant little kid when he needed to be and took charge or situation when no one else was able to. In fact, all of the actors did a pretty good job with this material, and even though it was rated R, there was barely any blood or gore. The fact that this movie could creep you out so much with showing so little was another thing to be impressed by. And as if all this stuff wasn’t enough, the whole thing took place in Finland, so seeing all the snow and mountains made the movie enjoyable just to look at. I’d say that the biggest flaw of this movie, even if it’s the only flaw, was the fact that the entire story revolved so closely around Christmas that I can’t picture myself watching this movie at any other time during the year. Movies like the original Black Christmas or Silent Night, Deadly Night are examples of great horror movies that happen to involve Christmas, but don’t necessitate it. There’s no way that Rare Exports could be as entertaining throughout the year as it is around the holidays. All that being said, I definitely think that this is one of the best Christmas themed horror movies of the past few years and hope that it is one day looked back upon fondly as a classic.
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