This picture is better than the actual movie. Rare Exports is a 2010 Finnish movie about Santa Claus. Although, it's not Santa in the big red suit with a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. No, this version of Santa is a lot nastier. The film's conceit is that Santa is a mythical monster, like something you'd see in an original Brother's Grimm fairy tale. Santa is a feral creature who lives in the isolated woods of Finland. He ravenously kills and eats anyone who is naughty. Unfortunately, just about everyone is naughty, so no one is safe. Sounds like a great setup, right? The premise is cool as hell, and certainly wins points for originality. OK, not exactly. The idea of a nearly impossible to please Santa Claus was already done in Futurama. A robotic Santa had such high standards that only Dr. Zoidberg made it to the nice list. Everyone else got a helping of laser blasts and rocket attacks. So, the idea isn't completely original. But what idea is? The important thing is the execution. As long as they executed it well, everything will be fine. The execution, however, sucked. The movie's running time is only 82 minutes. Within such a short time to work, and with a cool premise, the best thing would be to introduce the characters, then jump right into the action. Rare Exports doesn't do this. It spends the first 60 minutes farting around with boring characters. When shit finally gets going, there are only 20 minutes of film left. To say that the first hour of the movie is squandered would be an understatement.
This is how I felt watching this movie. The first hour draaaaags. We don't get deeply layered characters or a slowly building sense of tension. No, not at all. What we get is a chubby-faced kid who looks part-white, part-Asian, and part-Mongoloid, who huffs and haws his way through the movie. He knows from the beginning that Santa is out there and is a danger to everyone. Nobody believes him, of course, not until the end. This is as old a genre trope as the legend of Santa Claus itself. Virtually nothing happens in the first hour apart from three adult hunters finding a field littered with reindeer corpses. The final 20 minutes of the film are better, but are not good enough to save the movie. Santa is captured, and he's a grimy old man with evil on his mind. He doesn't speak, but shows his nefarious intentions through evil deeds. Oh, wait, scratch that. We aren't shown anything at all. The movie tells us that Santa bit one of the hunters' ears, and chomped a broomstick in two. Great job, guys, apparently the adage "show don't tell" never made it to Finland. The cool shit isn't shown, instead we get exposition, which makes the film drag even more. Eventually, the hunters put Santa in his iconic red outfit and try to sell him to a foreigner. This foreigner had excavated a mountain where Santa had been buried for centuries. It is then, in the final 10 minutes of the film, that the big twist is revealed: this isn't Santa at all, it's one of his elves. Then, an army of dirty old men (elves) attacks the humans. Of course, we get treated to full-on shots of old man wang, which is certainly appreciated. I can't tell you the number of movies I've seen that would have been greatly improved by old man wang.
Santa has a lot of rules. So, the hunters and the kid take refuge in a storage building. Inside they find a giant egg that is incubating the real Santa Claus. When he hatches, there is no telling what kind of shit is going to occur. Naturally, this never happens. After all the buildup, after all the talking, after the old man wang and seeing the kid walk around in his underwear, after all the fucking hype about the hell on Earth Santa will unleash, he never makes an appearance. That's right, in a movie about an evil Santa Claus, Santa himself never shows up. The egg in which he's incubating is blown up. FUCK YOU, MOVIE! What we get instead is a zombie-movie inspired sequence in which the little kid lures the elves into a holding pen. The movie tries to do a half-baked parody of an action hero sacrificing himself for the good of the cause, using a child in place of an adult hero. The attempt at parody fails miserably. The movie hadn't tried to be a parody up until this point, so why try to shoehorn this in during the last 10 minutes? The movie ends with yet another twist: the hunters start a new business training and shipping the elves around the world as "true" Santa Clauses. The last minute of the movie was the highlight. It was actually really clever. Why the fuck didn't they base the whole movie on that? Why leave the best part for the very end? All the promise this movie had was wasted. If they had used the final minute as a jumping off point, they could have made something unique. Instead, they put all their hopes into the twist ending,
Santa's elf needs a bath. After the movie ended, I discovered two short films on which Rare Exports was based. They're basically the same thing, a total of about 18 minutes showing hunters trapping, training, and selling "Father Christmases." These two short films (the inspiration for the movie) were infinitely better and had the same plot points. The fact that the full 82 minute film could be condensed into 18 minutes, and have the same overall effect, is a fucking shame. If you had any interest in this film, don't bother. Just watch the short films instead. They were much better, and not a massive waste of time. And in case you were wondering if the short films had old man wang, the answer is: yes, yes they do. VERDICTS: MOVIE - BAD SHORT FILMS - GOOD Check out my other Christmas posts: