Per Christian Ellefsen, Jorma Tommila, Onni Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings
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What is it all about?
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up! This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus
The Hughes Veridct!
We all know what Father Christmas does. He goes into kids bedrooms and empties his sack! Ok! All that was missing from that sentence was a Sid James laugh because that opening line I just wrote was such a Carry On kind of gag that I feel ashamed that I have lowered myself to that standard. But my point for all this is that when you actually look at the figure of the man in red then he really is a creepy fella. I mean there are the parents sleeping in their beds and a strange man goes into their kids bedroom and watches over them. Yes he leaves presents but has he ever had a police check? Do we really know we can trust him in the cold air of night?
The fact not many horror films have jumped on this notion is a peculiar one, yes we have had the slash flick Silent Night Deadly Night which created such ripples that it caused the start of the “end” of the Slash Boom in the early eighties. A few years back we had Santa’s Slay, another horror flick which so tongue in cheek that it could not be taken serious and that is all we have had really because the studio’s see Christmas as an ideal time for Kid flicks and not for seeing the man with the white beard carrying an axe and killing everyone in sight. Its with great pleasure then to announce that finally we have a film to fill the empty void, a real and I mean, real good horror film and it arrives in the shape of Rare Exports, a film from the land from Finland that may just yet beat Troll Hunter as best foreign horror flick of the year.
Then even just by writing this review I feel bad because I am describing this as an horror film when in reality its not. Yes we see the mutilated bodies of animals and some axe in the head set-pieces, but in reality this is more of a kids action film, a kind of film we all loved when the likes of The Goonies and Monster Squad were all the rage. In other words readers, this is everything Super 8 was not. Deeply dark but a fantastic fun ride that many will cherish from the off.
We start with a discovery at the top of the Korvatunturi mountain. Here we see a bunch of workers discovering a massive ice block which has been left undiscovered since ancient times. Looking on is the young Pietari (Onni Tommila) who senses in the air that something is not quite right and when he wakes one morning to find footprints by his window ledge he begins to read about the “true” Father Christmas and this one is not the Ho Ho Ho jolly fellow you see in that “Holiday is coming” TV ad that plays every year in December. This guy is one vicious bastard who takes bad children and “eats them”. Oh yes, do not worry about having that new XBox 360 game under the tree, just be happy to be alive if he does not come down your chimney. Yes guys it really is that dark and its a wicked idea.
While the workers are up at the mountain digging away, Pietari reads up on the history of this crazy man and when mutilated bodies of animals are discovered, it is only he who knows the truth but like all films of this nature-who would believe him?, , Certainlly not his father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) who is more worried that all the reindeers are dead and without no meat to sell, how can he and the local community get by in the winter months.
The film takes a dark turn when a trap outside the house “for wandering Reindeers” is filed and when the father and son look down, instead of seeing a dead animal. they see a wounded man with a white beard whose nose sniffs the air frantically when Pietari is nearby. Getting some help, the father cleans up this creepy figure and decides to sell him to the people up on the mountain, but when they get there with his son it tow, the film takes a rather unexpected but rather wonderful sudden turn!
Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander has delivered a rather most perfect anti-Christmas film. The pace is relentless and its so dark than it melted my horror heart. My main problem with the film that it may be just too tame for those who love their horror full of gore, yes we do get moments of pure horror but there are only brief glimpses, this. like all films of this genre is about a journey of a child turning to an adult and we see it here with Pietari who carries the film all on his little shoulders.
The yell of the word “TTTTRRRRRRROOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL!” may mean that the Troll Hunter has taken the plaudits this year but I can see Rare Exports becoming the cult classic in years to come, a film destined to watch when the big day comes, because not since Phoebe Cates told everyone her nightmare story about what happened to her dad one Christmas have I enjoyed yet another delicious dark snowy tale!