Based on award winning shorts, Rare Exports gives a delightfully dark twist to Santa Claus. Set in Finland, the story revolves around reindeer herder Rauno and his son Pietari. In a nearby mountain, Americans are setting off explosives under the guise of geological research. Only Pietari and his friend Juuso know better. They both sneak up one night and overhear the men in charge reveal that they’re actually trying to excavate Santa Claus. Juuso is too old to believe, but Pietari believes wholly and he’s the only one noticing things aren’t quite normal. To learn what he’s up against, young Pietari reads through books on Santa Claus and discovers what an evil entity Santa Claus really is.
As the community struggles with the loss of the reindeer, Pietari tries to warn them against the evil of Santa Clause. His warnings fall on deaf ears, even when a strange naked man with a long white beard shows up at Rauno and Pietari’s house. As the danger escalates and Christmas is drawing near, Pietari takes charge in effort to save his community.
Pietari and Rauno are both richly layered characters. There is a lot of emotional depth to Rauno and Pietari, making them both strong protagonists. Pietari is sweet and innocent, but struggles with guilt that he may be the cause of financial suffering this year. Rauno loves his son, but struggles with trying to raise him alone. He’s hyper focused on trying to keep them financially afloat, so it’s understandable that he ignores Pietari’s insistence they prepare against Santa’s arrival. Rauno’s peers bring humor and much needed assistance for Pietari’s plan in the climax.
This movie is a blast and a must watch for the holiday season. With the beautiful snow covered setting of Finland, reindeer, gingerbread, and a horrific take on Santa Claus it checks off all criteria for a perfect Christmas film. There are elements that are reminiscent of The Thing and Gremlins.
The hidden easter egg in the extra features menu on the dvd contains the recipe for gingerbread from the film. You can bet I’ll be testing this recipe out.