One of the most highly recommended ‘Christmas’ films this year is also a horror film. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, is directed by award winning cult Finnish director Jalmari Helander. It is his first feature film, and based upon two award winning shorts (see below). The film took both Best Director and Best Picture at this years Sitges Film Festival.
Here’s the official description of the film from the TIFF website, followed by some trailers and the shorts upon which the feature film is based:
Way up north in Finland, right on the border with Russia, lies one of Santa Claus’s ostensible homes. For the last couple of months an international team of “archaeologists,” working for Subzero Inc. and led by a weird Brit (who bears an unsettling resemblance to the Nazi officer in Raiders of the Lost Ark), has been mysteriously digging away at a large hill, wreaking havoc on the environment. The locals, mostly Samis and Laplanders, are furious. The annual reindeer round-up, which happens a few days before Christmas, has been ruined, dealing a devastating blow to the local economy. Especially annoyed is Rauno, a single father who’s struggling to make ends meet and deal with his imaginative, physically underdeveloped son, Pietari. Though he doesn’t totally fit in with the community, Pietari is insatiably curious and notices things that others don’t. Specifically, he’s realized that the dig is somehow related to Santa Claus, but this isn’t exactly the Santa from animated Christmas specials or nineteenth-century American doggerel. This Santa is, to put it mildly, a little harsher. A modern-day take on one of our most cherished fantasies, Jalmari Helander’s Rare Exports (based on the highly touted shorts he made for and broadcast on the web) explores the moral universe of fairy tales and our relationship to them. The classic examples – those collected by the Brothers Grimm or written by Hans Christian Anderson – are characterized by a ruthless, grisly morality, one that feels too brutal for our collective ethos, but somehow still holds power over our unconscious. (Why exactly would someone as altruistic as Santa Claus work clandestinely?) Jalmari Helander is well-versed in and respectful of the tradition he manipulates. Like classic fairy tales, Rare Exports boasts a lone parent with personal troubles, a child who’s perhaps too perceptive for his own good and an instantly identifiable villain. Told with just the right amount of gore, chill and humour, Rare Exports is a bracing fantasy that satirizes our attachment to the genre – our need to believe and propagate myth.
Rare Exports. Official Safety Instructions:
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