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Rare Exports

It is the season for Christmas related things, so let’s talk about Rare Exports, a rather charming action/adventure movie dealing with the true origins of Santa Claus. Unlike the usual Hollywood schmaltz starring some TV comedian, Rare Exports takes the clichéd ‘Santa Movie’ idea and puts a distinctly Finnish spin on the whole affair.

All the elements of the traditional Santa Movie are here; a little boy believes in Santa (despite no one else doing so), there’s a local bully causing said little boy a load of trouble and the whole thing is set in a bleak social setting, where only the true meaning of Christmas can save the day.

Sounds hum-drum so far, but Rare Exports is nothing of the sort; the little boy who believes in Santa does so because he realises the terrible truth about Father Christmas, and the dark and deadly secret that lurks in the nearby mountain. The bully is just another boy, looking out for his father, and the bleak setting is the border between Finland and Russia.

Jorma Tommila plays the ‘grown-up’ and does so very well. He also happens to look like several people I know.

In short, this is a mix of ‘secrets man should not know’ horror and ‘Christmas time fare’, and the blend works fantastically well. Imagine, if you will, what you would get if The Thing and The Santa Clause had a baby. Now imagine it with more white bearded, naked old men and you’ve got a good idea what this is like.

The father and son pairing that the movie hangs on works so well because the actors actually are father and son. The characters are believable and react to insane circumstances in believable ways, and though the bulk of the movie is in Finnish, the subtitles don’t get in the way of the action at all. In addition, the movie is filled with little gags and references that make it a joy to re-watch. The “Safety Instructions” are especially fun.

This little Finnish film has been around for a while; it started life as a series of internet shorts and has been doing the rounds in foreign language cinemas for some time now. With any luck, the recent DVD release will give this cracking little movie a much deserved following. I heartily recommend this to anyone looking for an antidote to overly sentimental seasonal entertainment.

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Categories: Geek, Movies
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