San­tanic verses

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Rob De Walt The New Mex­i­can

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:

Rare Ex­ports

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