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A Review of Father Christmas in ‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’
November 7, 2011Posted by on
I eagerly waited a good year and half for Rare Exports to come out, checking IMDB every few weeks to see if a DVD release date had been set yet. It was on limited release (nowhere near me) so I wasn’t able to catch the theatrical release. Well… I finally saw it. I can’t say I was blown away by it but I did get to see a whole bunch of naked old men (i.e., elves) running around in the snow. Spoilers are likely included.
A helpful hint: this movie is all strict folklore. They follow the more accurate and Finnish history of Santa, not Coca Cola’s history. So a premise: in the Christmas Mountain, the CEO of some corporation has a dream of uncovering the REAL Father Christmas that has been captured and frozen hundreds of years ago. They blast into Santa’s location and the elves are set free. The elves kill off the corporation, along with a small village’s only supply of reindeer for that year. The village gets pissed and uncovers the massacre, only to realize what is going on. The child of a villageman, who is the main character, knows all along its Father Christmas that is causing the ruccus. One of the elves gets captured by the village and believing he is the only Father Christmas/Santa Claus, they hold him for ransom from the offsite corporation. The elves want to thaw out their master, Santa Claus from a giant block of ice and the story pursues.
I love the elves in this movie. The filmmakers claim that what we visualize as Santa Claus, are the elves. Thus, the many elves allow Santas to visit all houses in the world in one night. The actual Santa Claus (not the elves) on the other hand, is more of a large demon, the size of an airplane hanger. We don’t get a full visual of him which is a let down. Still, the elves look all gangly but still portray supernatural powers bestowed upon our impression of a fantastical creature.
This movie taking place in Finland, and produced by a small company did wonders for the film! We see everything covered in snow at all times, giving us a winter feeling, but since this village lives there, they have adapted to it and can continue on with the story. The attire is great with all of the men having grizzly and beautiful beards, Christmas sweaters, and long johns. I am so glad this was a foreign film, the Finnish language did it well.
Now, now… the story wasn’t all on Santa and his elves. The village, exemplified only in one father and son, show the trials of life and why they must hold Santa Claus ransom. Food is scarce and their only supply just ran short. In addition, they face difficulty in supporting each other by being a single parent. Oh gosh, I felt so bad for the father at some times. One question I have is, where were all the women? The entire village was made up of men and children. Perhaps they migrate? I don’t know but then again, I don’t really care.
Any downfalls of the movie? It was so short, only 84 minutes. If I’m looking forward to a movie for a year and half, I want AT LEAST 90 minutes. So there was that and obviously, the gorehound that I am, would have loved to see more violence, like the elves ravaging the deer, or actually seeing Santa Claus escape from the ice and rip apart someone.
I should mention that this movie did take a more positive, dark comedic direction in the ending sequence. The village decides to take part in the exporting Father Christmas’s across the world and we see them training them in all sorts of ways. There are actually two short films which precede this film, and were also the kindling to ignite this movie. In those two movies we see more about the relationship between the village and the Father Christmas’s. Those are great short movies which may perhaps be better because it is just that, a short story and not a feature film.
All in all, the movie was good, not great, but not mediocre because it was unique. It has been, and I believe will be, the only truly great Christmas horror movie. Though as a horror movie, it didn’t hold up to what I expected but then again, it took me in a different direction. I hope that it gets more attention near Christmas. 4/5.
So what is the next movie that I am eagerly anticipating? Bellflower. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2459999257/