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