RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Studio: Oscilloscope Labs
Directed by: Jalmari Helander
BY KEVIN CARR
As much as I love Christmas movies and getting into the Christmas spirit, I also love a great dark tale about Christmas. This is what you get when you check out “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.”
This Finnish film follows a young boy Pietari, whose family raises reindeer for a living. Near their farm, an American company is digging something up from the ground. Pietari starts to research what they might be digging up, and he discovers it might be the original Santa Claus… only this isn’t the benevolent Santa most people know. Instead, it’s a demon that would punish naughty kids in the past. When Pietari’s family discovers a mysterious old man in a wolf trap, he wonders if they caught the demonic Santa.
I had heard about “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” for a while before I had a chance to see it, and I’d been told it was one of the great dark versions of a Christmas movie. Like “Gremlins” and “A Nightmare Before Christmas” to a degree, “Rare Exports” is a holiday movie for the horror movie fan.
There are genuinely creepy moments with the supposed captured Santa, who has a glare that will give you chills. Plus, considering how legends evolve, this movie makes you wonder about the evolution of the Santa legend.
“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is based on two short films that had generous play on the festival circuit, and both movies are included on the DVD and Blu-ray. However, the film itself holds a little too closely to these movies to deliver a somewhat substandard punch line to the feature film.
The first 95 percent of “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” is a fantastic and chilling jaunt through a dark fantasy of Christmas. The last five percent tries to keep the tradition of these short films and shoots itself in the foot. We never get the full pay-off we expect if we’ve never seen the original shorts. Knowing about them makes the ending understandable, but it could have been so much better.
But don’t let a softball ending stop you from checking this movie out… just put the kiddies to bed first.
The Blu-ray includes the two short films, a making-of documentary, a look at the concept art, animatics and scene-to-scene comparison, behind-the-scenes photo gallery and the original Finnish trailer. There’s also a bonus film included, the 1964 cult classic “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” for more family-friendly viewing.