Sometimes its not so simple as who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.
Wherever there is a happy and joyous event, a dark twisted horror version is being made. There are of course horror movies about college parties, high school dances, birthdays, summer holidays, even Easter now with the Beaster Bunny but Christmas is usually a prime time for a generic family orientated drama comedy and a horror movie to accompany it around the same time. You’ve got your Black Christmas and your Krampus and with last year’s Better Watch Out I’m sure there’ll be more on the horizon. But in between horror and family friendly stories, there lies Korvatunturi, the home of Father Christmas himself, and inspiration for Finnish film, Rare Exports.
When a British research team unearths a malevolent presence after drilling too far on top of Korvatunturi, strange things begin to happen. All the reindeer in the area are violently slaughtered and chewed down to the bone, all the children, except one, go missing, and a gigantic creature with horns frozen in ice is in a hanger. Pietari, the only child not missing, having done his research into folklore, believes the creature in ice is the real Santa Claus buried within the earth centuries ago by the Saami people to keep everyone safe. Along with his father and the slaughterhouse men, they devise a plan to save everyone.
Written and directed by Jalmari Helander, the film is a feature version of previous shorts, Rare Exports Inc and the sequel Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions. The shorts are about how a group of locals who capture and train ‘elves’ and export them as Santas around the world. This storyline is included in the feature at the end, concluding the plan to blow up the evil Santa Claus, the group need to make money after their reindeer business goes bust. Not only does the film offer another fresh vision of Father Christmas, but the story touches upon the disturbing folklore tale of the real Santa Claus, a huge hideous beast who whipped children bloody and boiled them alive. The hero of the story, Pietari (Onni Tommila) at first is terrified by this new image of the jolly old man who hands out presents, but soon takes action when the adults have no idea what to do, he is the one who takes risks. Throughout the film, Pietari is dismissed for his childish dreams but ultimately he understands that there is something more sinister afoot.
The story doesn’t necessarily fit in with conventional Christmas tales, it has elements of Christmas, the belief of Santa Claus, gingerbread biscuits and decorations but it doesn’t have a message about the true meaning of Christmas or expected ending. It is a twisted dark story that not only brings cheer and triumph by the end but also makes you wonder what happens when those exported boxes arrive at their destination. You really never know and that can send chills down your spine.