Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (4 stars)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Finnish off-the-wall horror fantasy explores wild side of St Nicholas folklore

From Finland comes this bizarre Christmas tale, an off-the-wall horror fantasy pitched halfway between The Polar Express and Let the Right One In. Evil Father Christmases are a rarely mined cinematic seam, but not since Edmund Purdom tracked down a Santa-obsessed serial killer in Don't Open Till Christmas has there been such a dark take on seasonal mythology.

After two amusing parody shorts on the same subject, Rare Exports Inc. and Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions, director Jalmari Helander musters an impressively sweeping, epic feel for his debut feature. Set in and around a chilly corporate excavation in the Korvatunturi mountains, Rare Exports is a prequel to his earlier shorts, featuring youngster Pietari (Onni Tommila) as a boy who discovers Santa's frozen prison. When his widowed father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) happens upon a herd of dead reindeer, and a number of local children go missing, Pietari launches his own investigation, putting him on collision course with the excavators and a non-so-jolly Father Christmas (Peeter Jakobi).

More suitable for twisted adults than wide-eyed kids, Rare Exports is an accomplished and enjoyably perverse sleigh ride on the wild side of the St Nicholas folklore, and, like Joe Dante's Gremlins, benefits from a tight focus on a child's point of view. With blood aplenty and frontal male nudity, this isn't the Santa Claus mummy used to kiss, but it is an enjoyably dark Yuletide nightmare.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

  • 4 stars
  • 2010
  • Finland
  • 1h 20min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jalmari Helander
  • Cast: Tommi Korpela, Per Christian Ellefsen, Jorma Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Onni Tommila, Risto Salmi, Peeter Jakobi, Rauno Juvonen, Ilmari Järvenpää

Off-the-wall yuletide horror starring Jakobi as a Father Christmas you really wouldn't wish to find up your chimney. Corporate excavations in the north of Finland unwittingly awaken the original Santa (unluckily, an ancient and murderous demon) and when local children start to disappear, only youngster Pietari (Tommila…