Haddonfield X-Rated Xmas – Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is one of those films I should have seen earlier. It is a great little film that looks fantastic and is one of the more engaging Christmas horror films I’ve seen.

A company has discovered something buried deep in the Korvatunturi Mountains, as the dig deeper strange things start to happen and then children start to go missing. Young Pietari thinks he knows what has been discovered and he knows there is someone ready to check the naughty or nice list. I have been fairly sparse with the details of the plot as it is best to go in not knowing too much.

Fuck you, Billy Bob Thornton
Writer and director Jalmari Helander has created something fresh, with a combination of weird, darkly funny and horror-tinged strangeness wrapped up in a great little package. He makes the film feel at times like Gremlins and when the kids are involved a little bit like The Goonies, not so much in subject matter but in the atmosphere of the film, which is not a bad thing. The film looks fantastic, capturing everything is a crisp and clear manner with Helander making the most out of the snow and ice-bound setting, getting some really good shots and relatively seamlessly slotting some CGI in amongst the real action.
The writing is the film’s strongest point. Helander manages to work in the comedy (albeit cracker-dry) and the strangeness but he also gets some great mileage from Pietari’s bitter-sweet conversations with his father Rauno (who incidentally are Father and Son in real life), it elevates the film above your average killer Santa flick. The only downside to the film is that it could’ve been darker as they could’ve easily bumped up the horror quotient in the film.

Travelodge has really gone downhill recently…
The acting is good, nothing special but Onni Tommila (Pietari) and Jorma Tommila (Rauno) are the standouts playing their characters with a reality that grounds an otherwise silly premise. Onni in particular plays his role perfectly becoming the films main focus and core toward the end of the film. Unfortunately the other characters don’t get a chance for any character development and are there purely as counter points for the main characters.
Rare Exports does have a very sweet side despite the crazy nature of the film. In a film about a bad Santa, there is a lot of emotionally involving moments which never once slide into the cheesy abyss of sentimentality (as most Christmas films do). The film rarely lets you know what is coming next and to be honest that is very refreshing. Rare Exports is one the best Christmas themed horror films I have seen.

Review by Ryan Morrissey-Smith

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