Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Opinion: B

Christmas has never been darker and bolder with this well-devised film based upon a wicked idea by Director Jalmari Helander and his brother Juuso Helander. Beginning with mystery and suspense that gradually shifted the genre gear into horror, it would have almost been convincing with its film material taken so seriously that people might even believe in its intended parody. The film also knows well not to go over the top with a short and sweet running time under 90 minutes, which is rare and commendable.


On Christmas Eve in Finland, an archaeological dig unearths the real Santa Claus. A dark figure, far from the Santa we know. Soon after, children start disappearing, leading a boy and his father to capture Santa and attempt to sell him back to the corporation that sponsored the dig. But Santa's elves are determined to free their leader.


Set in the renowned homeland of Santa Claus, Finnish Director Helander playfully tinkers with the idea of twisting the legend behind Santa Claus and adopts a sombre genre vessel to deliver. Without trying to reveal too much, Helander attempts to outrage people's concept of Santa Claus by allowing modern day excavational activities to unravel the "truth" behind Santa Claus.

And it's achieved under 90 minutes, which is an impressive feat.

In honesty, the film material developed does not warrant a lengthy amount of reeltime and it's commendable that Helander knows exactly when he should stop and not go over-the-top to dwell further with exaggeration. This allows a well-paced film that's comfortable enough to knock home its intended messages without dragging the audience's attention span all the way to the North Pole and back again.

While most of the limelight will be shone upon the original idea by the Helander brothers, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is also technically excellent. With good cinematography (lighting) and production design, it enabled the horror and suspense to feel heightened and the winter to look sinisterly cold.

For a film that ventures into twisted Scandinavian snow terrains and to court the dark side with what is otherwise commercially known to be heartwarming and jolly, it is extremely bold and ferociously captivating in its orginality glory. One of the interesting events is how they export (potential spoiler alert!) Santa's elves to every country around the world for lucrative commercial gains. This uncanny reference is likely made to modern day's take of urban Christmas where everything is commercialised and every company and person is always eager to jump at the first opportunity of profit-making.

Not forgetting the choice of graphical visual insertion with the slaughtering of reindeers and naked elves wielding machetes and axes, the film has fronted a number of psychological barriers deterring traditional Christmas perceptions. The last I recalled, isn't the Spirit of Christmas is all about caring and sharing?

Christmas will never ever be the same with Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.


1 comment:

  1. Agree with you: a fabulously entertaining Xmas horror-flick, packed with cool characters and awesome-looking locations. I loved it!

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