Fantastic Fest 2010: Capone now has a heightened fear of Santa Claus thanks to the Finnish film RARE EXPORTS!!!
Published at: Sept. 28, 2010, 2:11 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Austin here.
I demand that every man, woman, and child of every nationality go see the spectacular, glowing tribute to Santa Claus known as RARE EXPORTS from Finland, which was just picked up by the wonderful folks at Oscilloscope Laboratories for what I'm hoping will be a holiday release. Some people are scared of clowns, and others are mortified by that white-bearded dude with a mild pedophile vibe, Santa Claus. RARE EXPORTS is the kind of movie that people who love and hate Christmas can enjoy together as we get a glimpse at how Scandinavian cultures have demonized the Santa Claus myth to the point where children grow up terrified by a visit from him, and adults live every holiday season twitching in bed at night with horrifying dreams of their childhood memories.
Words barely capture just how perfectly realized and tonally twisted RARE EXPORTS is throughout. The film opens with a archeological crew digging deep in a mountain only to discover saw dust and ice buried deep in the ground, evidence that something foreign was placed in the mountain but that the mountain itself might be man-made, hiding something meant to stay there for all time. But a creepy, short man with a red scarf wants the digging to continue. Nearby, some local residents are grumbling about the environmental impact of the excavation, but before long evidence begins to surface there are a slew of peeping toms in town and then children begin disappearing, being replaced by straw dummies. Meanwhile, young Pietari starts to piece together what is happening and who is responsible thanks to some extensive research on the Santa Claus myths.
Then one of Pietari's father's deer traps captures something unexpected, an old naked man with a long white beard and a nasty disposition. At first his father and his friends believe they may have captured Santa, but that turns out not to be exactly right. Director Jalmari Helander strikes a great balance of dark humor and grim, scary visuals in his version of myth making, and trust me when I say there is nothing creepier than a skinny, naked, old man in the snow who smiles when a child comes near him.
I noticed in Quint's review of the film, he emphasized that most of the story is seen through the eyes of Pietari, who seems the most fearless one in a group of much older men, and I smile every time I envision a child of about the same age as Pietari (maybe 8-10) going to this movie and getting inspired to learn about dark myths of read a Grimm's Fairy Tale. And by being the only person who fully understand the scope of what is happening on the mountain, he turns into the film's natural leader and plots out the destruction of the evil that lurks within the earth being unfrozen by stolen radiators, over, and hair dryers. Despite this sounding like an utterly ridiculous, director Helander never lapses into camp or outrageousness (in a movie filled with naked old man penis, I realize that's tough to believe). He maintains his sinister vibe and unleashes a few truly scary moments amidst his underlying tone of dread and slow-burn fear. Oh, yes, RARE EXPORTS needs to see the light of day in theaters worldwide in about three months or I think Santa Claus may find all of us naughty and eat our bones. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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