Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

It’s December in Finland as two young boys spy on some miners on the top of a huge hill.  The boys can’t figure out what these Americans could be digging for, and our main character Pietari suggests maybe it’s Santa, based on the time of year. The older boy basically tells him that he’s retarded and is too old to believe in Santa, which might be true since he is like 11.  They travel back down the hill and through a hole in the fence that surrounds the dig site, and return to their homes. Pietari can’t help but think maybe he was right about what’s down there, so he does a little research, and despite living in a tiny house, they have a huge amount of books on fairy tales and Christmas history.  It turns out that Santa isn’t the red-suited, jolly fat fuck we are all used to seeing around the holidays; he is actually a demon. He comes once a year to punish children who have been naughty, and snatches them from their homes to torture them or even kill them.  Hundreds of years ago, the locals lured Santa out onto a frozen lake and he fell through and froze solid.  They then cut him out of the ice and spend decades covering him with rocks and boulders encasing him inside a huge mound.  Just like the mound those fools were digging at, and is right next to his house.

Soon strange things begin to happen around the village: Pietari finds footprints on the roof outside his room, and his father’s herd of reindeer have been slaughtered.  His dad blames it on wolves and a hole that was cut in the fence outside the hill, and aims to give those Americans a stern talking too.  As they travel to the top of the hill, they find the dig site deserted, and a gigantic  empty hole.    The adults don’t know what to do, so they just sulk and go home.  The next day Pietari notices that the bait they use for their wolf trap is missing, and something must have fallen in the pit and ended up on the spikes below. He runs and tells his dad, who goes for a look, and tells him there is nothing there.  But there is… and old naked man has been impaled and is dead at the bottom of this hole.  After calling over a friend, Pietari’s dad needs to get rid of the body, so as he is about to cut it up, the guy springs back to life and attacks one of them.  He remains curled up in a corner and doesn’t move until Pietari comes around. The kid tells the adults his story about Santa, and lets them know that they have him cornered in their garage.  The adults get an idea, they will sell him back to the owners of the mining site!

As they meet the Americans for the exchange, a frightening truth is discovered. The guy they captured isn’t Santa at all, he is just an elf. At that moment we meet Santa’s other helpers and hundreds of guys just as old and just as naked as their elf come out of the woods towards them with weapons in-hand. The group runs into a warehouse to seek shelter, but that might not have been the best choice, as the real santa is in there: a giant horned creature still frozen in ice, but the ice is quickly melting.  They also find all the village’s children ready for Santa to judge when he wakes up, but also there is a shit ton of dynamite too. At this moment in time, Pietari goes from innocent little kid to total badass, and comes up with a plan. They fly the kids out on a chopper to lure the naked elves away, and the remaining guys stick dynamite all over the Santa popsicle.  They blow him up, and the elves sort of space out and don’t know what to do next.

Here is where the movie gets kind of trippy: the guys now have 200 old men on their hands, so what do they do with them?  The train them to be mall Santas and ship them all over the world as an export from the land of the real Santa.  Mind you these guys were trying to murder people five minutes ago…

Alex’s Thoughts: This thing starts out with a pretty clear explanation of what’s going on, but sort of slows down for a while and in parts works hard to bore you.  It picks up though when they find ‘Santa’, and it keeps pace well from then out. I like how near the end, the main kid drops his stuffed animal and turns into a bad-assed action hero.  The acting was pretty good throughout, but that is from someone who only speaks English and not Finnish.  I did not care for the ending at all. I didn’t really get it, and thought maybe it would have been better to just kill all those naked old men.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10 

Tim’s Thoughts: I waited an extra day after watching this to write my review, I needed some extra time to digest this and figure out how I feel about this movie. It’s shot beautifully,and I am finding that the Scandinavians make very visually pleasing cinema, but the ending of this film is so strange, and out of left field…..I will say that 90 percent of this movie I really like, I just can’t make up my mind about the ending. If you don’t mind subtitles I recommend this, even if it’s just to see the crazy take on the Santa Claus mythology. Tim Rates This Movie: 8/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue