Movie Review: “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”

You’d better watch out.

You’d better not swear.

Have a gun handy, loaded for bear.

Santa Claus is coming…to Finland.

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” is a dark Finnish horror farce about “the real Santa Claus.”

As the knowing boy Pietari (Onni Tommila) tells his friend, “The Coca Cola Santa was just a hoax.”

The real Santa was an ancient beast who “spanks kids to pieces,” and who was buried underneath a nearby frozen mountain.

But now some idiot capitalist straight out of an Indiana Jones movie has contracted a drilling team to dig whatever is buried under the dirt, rock, ice and sawdust. The locals — all men — start losing reindeer, start seeing crazed naked old men with white beards and keen noses, and wonder, before all is said and done, where all the children have gone.

“Rare Exports,” opening Saturday at The Enzian,  is one of those movies that lets you feel the cold, and the dark days and darker nights of this bleak land of farmers who do their own butchering is an ideal setting for a horror riff on the Christmas myth. A contractor (Jonathan Hutchings) lectures his drilling rig team on the safety instructions he’s posted all over the well-site.

“No drinking. No smoking. No cursing. Wash behind the ears.” You know the foul-mouthed roughnecks in writer-director Jalmari Helander’s wickedly clever nightmare will ignore him at their own peril.

Simple, rural reindeer herders with limited imaginations, not knowing what to make of the barefoot footprints in the snow or elves who look more like the Living Dead, and boys who get (and need) their first over-under shotgun at age 10 are the players here.  Little Pietari knows how important it is to “Always believe. Always.” Will he be able to convince his dad and the other men, get them to buy into his research on the “real Santa” before it’s too late?

And for those who have been “naughty,” will guns, security fences and vigilance be enough to ensure they make it through Christmas?

Maybe. But if “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake,” all bets are off!

See for Yourself
“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale”

Cast: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Peeter Jakobi

Director: Jalmari Helander

Running time:  1 hour 24 minutes

Rating: R for some nudity and language.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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