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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

December 16, 2011

MY CALL:   “B” for originality and good production quality.  This is a weird, fantasy, genre film for fans of the strange.  A+++ for the short films, which were AMAZING!  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  If you have to skip this, then at least watch the two short films.  Links are available at the end of the review.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  More foreign movies.  Reading movies may be annoying, Lord knows my Finnish is a bit rusty, but there are some excellent lesser-known flicks out there.  Want another even more ultra-cool unique Norse flick?  Try Troll Hunter!  Great effects, neat story, unlike anything else.  DRINKING MOVIE STATUS: Just say “no” when subtitles and a good story merit reading.

With Christmas right around the corner I felt the need to disseminate an important message: Santa doesn’t exist.  At least, not in the capacity that we thought he did when we were small children swallowing heaving spoonfuls of nonsense from our good-intentioned parents.

Here’s the trailer…

This ultra-special film begins in Finland with a drilling team’s discovery of the resting place of who we endearingly call Santa Claus…over 1500 feet below the surface in a man-made mountain functioning as a tomb.   The scene is beautifully shot.  “A” for effort on cinematography.  A child witnessing this discovery rushes home for the opening credits, during which he researches “The Truth About Santa.”  That’s on the bookshelf of every Finnish household, right?  This ancient folklore-rich tome has all of the charming imagery of some anti-Bible.  Its pages depict various devil-horned Santas as decrepitly ghoulish or frighteningly muscled, beating a child’s rear with a stick as it bleeds like a scourge-riddled Jesus-back, preparing Christmas stew by adding a dash of naughty child to a boiling cauldron, and similar such macabre.  The artwork, I wager, was from the storyboards and character concepts during the pre-production phase.

A group of Finnish locals planning on harvesting reindeer meat on Christmas Eve day finds the local herd slaughtered to such extremes that they question “what manner of wolf would do this?”  The young boy finds a bare footprint, human, beside a reindeer carcass.  “He was hungry,” the boy thought.

All the while the drilling team is being introduced to their precious “cargo”—which is still alive and, like a mogwai (Gremlins for our younger readers), comes with safety instructions whose consequences are significant:

 

[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]

After the quick demise of the drilling team the locals end up with Santa Claus on their hands and they have to deal with him.  He’s a bit of a handful.  But what happens when they realize that this isn’t Santa, but rather one of his “little helpers” in the image of how we traditionally consider Santa to appear?  Are there more helpers?  Oh yes.  And they’re all naked?  No, that was not a joke.  They’re all naked, skinny, bearded old men.  And we see them run…you heard me: RUNNING, naked, skinny, bearded old men.  This is not as awkward as it sounds.  I promise.  The lighting on their nether-regions is just poor enough that you can’t make out the finer details necessary for identifying a perp in an SVU lineup, but just good enough that you can tell that the use of a silicon-prosthetics job by an F/X team was very unlikely.  These venerable actors really are in the  buff.

[SPOILER ALERT OVER]

After a slow and plotty beginning (and middle) this movie takes on a hint of zombie-horde-movie style.  It’s hard to explain.  The real Santa is addressed, but I won’t ruin how.  Let’s just say that our protagonists both ruin this Christmas and save future Christmases at the same time.

Folks, see this movie.  I swear, you’ve seen nothing like it before.  And double down with Troll Hunter!

                *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *             

Below is the video link to two short films about the movie, but not from the movie.  They are advertised on Youtube as trailers, but trailers they are NOT.  These should be watched AFTER watching the movie.  They function as an extremely short, better-than-the-movie sequel.  If you watch these BEFORE seeing the movie I assure you the movie will be less enjoyable.  These award-winning short films created the cult fanfare that led to the creation of this eccentric movie.

“Rare Exports, Inc.” (2003); “Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions” (2005).  You can find these two short films on Youtube in varying quality.

Folks, don’t miss these!  Click and watch now.

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