This is not your typical Christmas movie, although it is a Christmas movie anyway. Rare Exports is what began in 2003 as a short movie on Youtube about catching a Santa Claus and spawned a sequel short movie in 2005, and has now made its way on the big screen as a full movie, albeit full not quite meaning your average modern Hollywood movie with its length of 84 minutes.
Rare Exports tells the tale of the real Santa Claus, opposed to the contemporary, coke-indulging version with rosy red cheeks riding a sleigh pulled by reindeers. This Santa is everything but nice. He whips kids till they bleed to death and Santa’s little helpers are all but little. And naked. Most of the time. This mythos is the other side of the tale of Santa Claus in Nordic mythology, interpreted through a very dark lens, although the origins already are not really child-friendly. I’m nevertheless glad that for once there is a Christmas movie that is not like every other Christmas movie, all about gifts, families and joy, but a dark tale with fear and anguish thrown in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a sullen misanthrope that hates Christmas, I’m all for family Christmases and presents that have a meaning, but I don’t like the general materialistic mindset and mumbo jumbo that has surrounded it.
The other thing that greatly pleases me about this movie is the originality of the subject matter at hand. It’s not every day you see what is basically a horror movie about Santa Claus and Christmas set in the wilderness of Finnish Lapland, beyond the Arctic Circle (regarding which there is a major flaw in the production: the movie takes place beyond the Arctic Circle and around Christmas. Polar night lasts from early December till New Year, so there shouldn’t be any daylight, yet the majority of the movie is set in broad daylight). Despite its premise and treatment, there is lots of humour thrown in, dark, Finnish humour at that, and that made the contrast between the suspense and the humorous side so captivating. A horror movie that makes you feel good in the end, wasn’t really expecting that. Although a horror movie isn’t what I was expecting at all, so that doubles the surprise.
The acting is good and the actors well suit their gruff, simple herder roles. Although the movie is almost entirely in Finnish, I’m sure people who don’t understand Finnish can enjoy this, purely because the movie is good despite the language barrier, and it actually makes fun of the stereotype of the angular accent that Finnish people have when speaking English. The production overall was good, including the score which was well suited to the atmosphere. The only thing that was lacking compared to other areas was the CGI, which was quite.. ancient, in a way, and that annoyed me a bit, especially in the run-up to the ending which utilised lots of computer graphics.
I really suggest that everyone who is able to should go and see this movie in the cinema. Whether or not you’re a Christmas person you might enjoy this movie, I surely did. Definitely one of the best movies of 2010, and is more than likely to become a part of my personal Christmas tradition. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hollywood made a remake of this movie in the future after it has gained a cult following across the Atlantic after it’s released on DVD. Mark my words. Before then, go see this movie. Whether or not you like it, I guarantee you an experience, an original Christmas movie.