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Monday, December 17, 2018

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)




So far in the Christmas horror marathon I’ve been covering either silly over the top flicks like Santa’s Slay or semi-serious horror like Silent Night. This far into the marathon I figured it was time for me to tackle something darker and a bit more twisted. I bought this one when it came out and remember really liking it, but that was a few years ago. Time to dust off the DVD and revisit Rare Exports.

This is a Finish movie set on the border between Finland and Russia. Our characters are living in the shadow of a mountain that sits across the border. Something is up as a company is excavating the mountain top complete with explosions and heavy equipment. This stirs up the wolves which itself causes issues with the big reindeer harvest that the locals rely on for both food and income. When they find the entire herd slaughtered by what they think are wolves they angrily cross the border to get payment from the company that caused the disaster.

Now of course it isn’t wolves. Instead the excavation has unearthed a block of ice with Santa Claus trapped inside. This is the Jolly old fellow we are familiar with but is instead a demon that collected naughty children and I think ate them? The movie is a bit vague about the specifics, but it certainly isn’t good. The other twist is that the old guy with the white beard that we think is Santa Claus is really one of his elves. In fact, all of the elves are old white dudes with beards that run around collecting the children for their master. The characters find this out when one of them falls into a pit trap that was set for a wolf. Eventually the hunters find themselves fighting the elves to both save the children that they grabbed for Santa to eat, as well as stopping Santa from melting out of the ice block he is still trapped in.

This is not the Santa you are used to!
This is a dark movie that has some serious horror themes as well as an added bonus. First the horror stuff. These homicidal Santa’s, again really just elves, running around are very nasty creatures. They are dirty, naked, and scary looking. They sniff out the children and snatch them away leaving these creepy straw dolls in their place. If you get in their way, they will murder the hell out of you with whatever weapon is at hand. This is more Charlie Manson than it is Killer Santa Claus, which makes the movie very dark and frightening. If you are wanting to pop a movie in and giggle at the girl being shoved into a woodchipper for being naughty this isn’t the movie for you. People do that right? I’m not the only one that finds woodchipper murders funny, am I?

Santa on Ice
I mentioned an added bonus in the paragraph above. What I never expected from Rare Exports was a sweet coming of age story with our main character, the young son of one of the hunters. He is very timid and scared thru most of the movie trying to convince his father that something weird is going on. This is one of those movies where the kid figures it out first and tries to get the adults on board. It is mentioned that his mother had died, so it is just the two of them and without being obvious about it they clearly don’t relate to one another well. This all changes as the movie goes along and the kid takes charge and saves the day thru his bravery. You actually see their relationship change as the father understands and is proud of his son by the end of the movie. In spite of how dark and messed up portions of Rare Exports there is this unexpected bit of heart. How they got that to work without it feeling out of place is a tribute to the script and filmmakers.

The movie ends with one of the most amusing and interesting ideas that I’ve seen in a long time. They have all of these elves who, spoiler alert, have no master after Santa is blown to hell with some dynamite. What to do with them? Clean them up, put some red suits on them and train them to be proper Santas. Then they ship them around the world for a tidy profit, which covers their losses from the reindeer harvest gone wrong. Works for me. I’m going to recommend Rare Exports. Just understand that this isn’t like any of the other movies that appear in this marathon in that it can be disturbing.



© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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