IRare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Finnish holiday horror-comedy, rated R, CCA Cinematheque, 2.5 chiles With a tag line that reads, “This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus,” and a title like Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, it would be easy to make false assumptions about the nature of this film before viewing its trailer.
You might close your eyes, for instance, and picture Tim Allen yukking it up at the North Pole with animated reindeer and a character played by a cutesy child actor — a Fanning, perhaps, or a Culkin. Or Will Ferrell ( Elf ). But before you head to the box office with the family for this one, there are a few things you and your cherubic spawn should know. In the world of Rare Exports, Santa is more claws than Claus.
Loosely based on the pre-Christian Scandinavian legends of Joulupukki (the horned “Yule Goat,” who went from house to house demanding gifts and striking fear in the hearts of children) and Krampus, a demonic counterpart to the good-deed-doing St. Nicholas in parts of Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, this debut feature-length fantasy/horror-comedy by Helsinki-born director/screenwriter Jalmari Helander trades sugar plums dancing in children’s heads for fragile human appendages that should be protected in the presence of Santa’s naked, wrinkly, cannibalistic, gingerbread-addicted elves. Fa-la-la-la-la.
Combining material from two earlier short films (2003’s Rare Exports, Inc. and 2005’s Rare Exports: Official Safety Instructions), Helander turns the department-store concept of Santa Claus on its red-capped head, painting the magic of Yuletide cheer in a decidedly dim, if somewhat incoherent, light.
It isn’t looking a lot like your average Christmas in the snowy expanse of northern Finland’s Korvatunturi mountains, where inhabitants rely on reindeer-hunting for their livelihood. A foreign drilling company discovers something unusual and potentially valuable encased in ice 486 meters below the earth’s surface, and shortly thereafter, a bulk of the region’s annual
Seal off your chimneys, everybody: