NNWIJ: Rare Exports (2010)

Director: Jalmari Helander

Notable Cast: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen

Rating: R

Review:  Like a little kid eagerly anticipating a present, Rare Exports’ appearance on my Netflix Watch Instantly Queue was somewhat of a Christmas miracle…in April.  For some reason I love holiday horror films, and trailers for Finland’s scary take on the normally child friendly winter holiday looked peppered with yuletide screams.  But upon viewing, Rare Exports plays more like a fairy tale geared toward grown ups, full of whimsical magic and fantastical story telling.  Short on the horror I expected, Rare Exports still is an absolute winner for a more mature crowd come the holiday season, giving adults their own Polar Express style Christmas story while the children are asleep.  Taking place in a small Finnish hunting town, locals are infuriated when their normal crop of reindeer are slaughtered mysteriously and effortlessly, destroying any hopes at monetary success.  Blame points to an excavation going on upon a monstrous mountain, speculating Russian wolves have passed into Finland through a hole in their fence.  Little do they know said hole was created by mischievous children Pietari (Onni Tommila) and Jusso (Ilmari Järvenpää), who were snooping around the blast site.  Young Pietari fears the diggers are uncovering the tomb of Santa Claus, who is actually a horrific beast who punishes children instead of rewarding them.  As the days draw closer to Christmas, Pietari starts uncovering signs that may point to the evil Christmas demon’s presence.  His father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) barely acknowledges the idea, until he discovers a strange bearded man skewered in his home-made wolf pit.  Still alive, the man starts reacting to holiday staples like gingerbread.  From here Rauno and some friends find out the true motives of the mountain excavators, falling more into the naughty category.  Which coincidentally is where Rare Exports does not end up.  Helander’s storytelling was that of mature wonderment, not some cheap hack n’ slash “Santa is evil” killing spree motivated by hate.  Much like Trollhunter, Rare Exports busted with mythological storytelling from our European counterparts, giving the mystery a personal touch.  Compared to other holiday chillers like Santa’s Slay and Saint Nick (Sint), cinematic development trounces the competition.  The latter two films focus more on slaughtering and gore, while Rare Exports doesn’t need graphic kills to win over audiences.  One or two shock moments still exist, but stellar performances drive this holiday hoot.  Rare Exports undoubtably will wiggle its way into every Christmas movie marathon shown in my house, offering a refreshingly charming take on twisted foreign folklore.  I think I’ll just stick with the Coca-Cola Santa myself though….

Netflix Rating: 4/5

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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4 Responses to NNWIJ: Rare Exports (2010)

  1. Ashley Sutherland says:

    I am literally gearing up to watch this is in like 2 minutes on your recommendation. Stand by for comments.

  2. bkkpr123 says:

    I loved it. You’re completely right, it did not need gore to entrance. The story was excellent, the actors were perfect for their parts. I loved the guy who never took his sunglasses off, even in the dark. It seemed authentic and well paced. It would have been cool to see Santa, not just the creepy huge horns sticking out of the ice block but eh, you can’t have it all I suppose. I could have done without all the elves running around with their junk flopping free, but I guess Santa’s little helpers don’t care about frostbite on unfortunate places. It seems that Americans always die in foreign horror/suspense movies and I think they are trying to tell us something. Europeans have grown up with real life horrors creeping in the woods (and everywhere else) for centuries. I think they are trying to point out that they don’t scare as easily as Americans on the whole. Plus they always have guns and grew up using them. So, lesson learned. Elves are creepy, Santa is a demon and I need a shotgun. Check.

  3. Ashley Sutherland says:

    You were completely right, the movie did not need gore to entrance. I loved it. The characters were excellent as were the actors portraying them. It had a very authentic feel and it was well paced. I think the Europeans are trying to tell us that they do not scare as easily as Americans on the whole. Probably because they have had creepy ish running around the woods (and everywhere else) for centuries. Their fairy tales were used as life lessons, not for feel good princess attitudes. Like, the big wolf will eat your ass if you go to grandma’s house alone through the woods. I could have done without the nasty elves running around with their business flopping around, but if they don’t care about frostbite on unfortunate places, hey it isn’t my place to judge. Also it would have been cool to see Santa, not just giant horns in a block of ice but I suppose you can’t have it all. Still not sure why the kid duct taped cardboard to his ass but maybe that’s a mystery I’m not supposed to understand. A big plus, I took some things away from the flick that I will keep in mind. Elves don’t smoke, Santa is a demon and I need a shotgun.

  4. Haha I love the elf twist. Good stuff though, right? I love how it plays with such whimsy and innocence through Pietari, yet the material is kind of dark. And sure, I would have LOVED to see Santa unthawed, but hey, movies are rarely perfect. I’ll take seeing him as a frozen chunk with goat like horns. You don’t get folklore type story telling like this in American movies, or rarely do I should say, which makes me love a good foreing film like Rare Exports. Glad you took my advice!

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