This movie will not be for everyone. I just wanted to get that out of the way first before going into the details. This can be a very off-putting film at times, but it is also an undeniably well-made film. During the holiday season, I as much as anyone, enjoy to kick back with family and watch some classic Christmas films, but I do wish that more films like this would be released. Sometimes you just need a little jerk into reality once in a while. This is the darkest Christmas tale involving Santa Claus that I have ever seen. Mostly in the language of Finnish and only at a mere 80 minutes, this is a very quick film to get through if you don't mind reading subtitles. Here is why Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is so enjoyable and memorable.
Setting The Stage
From the very beginning, it is clear that this will not be just another average Christmas or horror flick. Beginning with reindeer being slaughtered on the day that an elderly man appears in a bear trap is just a little taste of what is to come. This film is really about two kids being in the wrong place at the wrong time, setting these events in motion. The elderly man is actually Santa Clause and he attacks and eats living things. His little helpers are other elderly naked men and attempt to slaughter any human in their path. Yes, this film truly is that bizarre. I must admit that the finale does wrap up too quickly and I felt like they were working around a tight budget, even though the filmmaking from beginning to end is gorgeous.
Although cinematographer Mika Orasmaa is not particular renowned as a great cinematographer, in fact making some pretty terrible movies over the past few years, his work on Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale really stood out to me. From the subtly of catching the perfect lighting at sunset or keeping a character front and centre in the frame when needed, this film is wonderful to gawk at. I will also commend the screenplay, even though it is a far more basic story than I was expecting it to be. The concept is what feels original, but aside from that, there really isn't much else adding substance.
Weighing The Positives And The Negatives
As I said, the biggest positives I can commend this film for accomplishing is the fact that they were able to pull of such a large scale on such a small budget, while also delivering some pretty amazing visuals through camerawork and visual effects. It also revitalizes the legend of Santa Claus in a way that may even have adults on edge. There are quite a few thrilling moments sprinkled throughout this film, along with believable performances and a climax that is satisfying enough. Having said all that, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is not perfect. The low budget does present itself on a few occasions and the ending feels very rushed. There is a three act structure to this film, but it does feel more like one continuous act, building throughout the film. Nevertheless, I was very entertained from start to finish.
My Overall Thoughts
As I said, In the end this Finnish produced film is an absolute blast from beginning to end. Filled with cool characters, a terrific performance by young Onni Tommila, and a plot that may be a bit outlandish, but works in the end, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale finishes on a clever, but silly note. For many reasons, this is not a perfect film in any way, but I can't deny the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a little taste of a whole new genre this holiday season. It has been in release for over six years, but the time has not diminished it. It is a very short and simple tale that is not afraid to visualize the concept in a graphic way. It is absolutely not for kids, but if you know what you are getting into, I highly recommend it.