Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

When I was a very little kid, I stole a pack of Dentyne gum from the grocery store. It was so easy- I just put it in my pocket as my Mother was purchasing groceries. The act itself was thrilling. I could not believe that I could think of something like that, do it and then bask in the rewards. I was interacting with the world and I existed. Hubris was destined to trip me up though. I shared my accomplishment with my older brother and after enjoying some of my gum and throwing the wrappers into a bush, my brother promptly snitched (Life lesson #1: Happiness lasts longer when not shared with others.)

So now I was in trouble, big trouble. I had to wait in the stairwell as my mother spun the punishment wheel in her head and determined my fate. As I stood in the hall crying and praying for the power to turn back time (Life Lesson #2: No amount of praying will result in God granting you magical powers) the two cops from ADAM-12 (MARTIN MILNER & KENT McCORD) came into the kitchen and began to discuss my fate with my mother. I saw them and I heard them, I swear. I was trapped in a whirlwind of guilt and horror; I was obviously going to be arrested and sent to jail. I wasn’t a “good” guy, I was a “bad” guy! Oh, the shame!

Time would reveal that no, the ADAM 12 guys were not in my home at all. I had just had, you know, a visual and audio hallucination of some sort. I guess my brain was not formed enough yet to draw the lines between my imagination and reality (this would also explain the night that I saw the Easter Bunny in the living room.) I bring up this story because while watching the Finnish film RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE some invisible elf in my head dragged it out of storage and shoved it center stage. The movie may look like a killer Santa flick but in reality, it’s more about being a kid, and finding a way to overcome feelings of being “bad” while gaining some confidence about your abilities and position in the world. If you watch this one expecting gore, explosive action and big scares, you might feel shortchanged so I’m saying don’t do that.

RARE EXPORTS introduces us to a kid named Pietari who has gone and done something worse than stealing Dentyne. He and a friend, while snooping around an excavation, left a hole in the fence that contains his father’s reindeer herd and now something has obliterated his family’s livelihood. Pietari’s guilt cannot be contained and even though he has been sworn to secrecy about the incident, he knows that Santa sees all and will punish him severely. This is made even clearer as all the local kids about town begin to disappear. Pietari’s father captures an elderly man who he thinks may be responsible for their predicament but Pietari is convinced that the creepy guy is all-knowing Santa himself. The truth is actually stranger and more fantastic than Pietari can imagine so I won’t ruin it here.

This is a highly original film that plays with your expectations and stokes your imagination at every turn. If you a looking for a different type of holiday viewing experience then this is it. It hits a very unusual and singular note by being much darker and creepier than your standard family Christmas movie and yet much more whimsical, nostalgic and ultimately uplifting (literally in one scene) than your usual Christmas horror fare. Director JALMARI HELANDER is compared to SPIELBERG, JEUNET and DANTE in blurbs on the back of the DVD and I can see that, but with the frozen landscape, zero female presence and block of ice excavation, I was thinking hey this is like a kid’s version of THE THING! Okay, well, maybe that doesn’t fit exactly but you know how my brain works. In any case, RARE EXPORTS is a great addition to my pile of required Christmas holiday viewing. Really the only thing that it is missing is a cameo from the guys from ADAM-12.

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Chris
Chris
9 years ago

Awesome review for an awesome movie, Unk! I myself stole a GI Joe figure from the local Alco department store and went through the exact same feelings and downward spiral as you did. Good to know we’re all a buncha thieves here. 🙂

As for the movie, like said, awesome! You could just feel the innocence bound off the screen in both Pietari (loved the fact he carried his stuffed animal everywhere he went), and the tale of believing in Santa Claus itself. While yeah, it’s an R rated film, I would love for this to become a Christmas classic in the vein of “A Christmas Story”, or “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Granted, it’d be hard to show on TV or in school with the flopping old man penis shots, but still… I’d love to live in a world where 2nd graders were shown this in class right before Christmas break.

tistheseasontv
tistheseasontv
9 years ago

I think I like this movie a lot more now that I’ve read your review. Thank you for sharing. Now I have a hankering for gingerbread.

knobgobbler
knobgobbler
9 years ago

My first bit of shoplifting (there there were others…) was a toy car. Once I got it home and hid it in the closet I went straight into Telltale Heart mode… how could anyone NOT know the hideous nature of my crime?!!!
Eventually, overcome with guilt and fear I went into the backyard and threw the thing over the fence… but even then I was expecting police at the door, informing my parents they’d come to take me away.

I’m gonna have to check this bad-Santa movie out if it’s conjuring up that sort of childhood memory.

bdwilcox
bdwilcox
9 years ago

When my friends decided to shoplift from Mother’s Cupboard (local food store) they all stole magazines, cigarettes and other “cool stuff.” What did I steal? A bottle of maraschino cherries. (Mom wouldn’t buy them for me because they “caused cancer.”) I immediately downed all the cherries plus a little of the red liquid they were pickled in. That night I had maraschino cherries coming out of every bodily orifice…relentlessly. Never shoplifted again: lesson learned.

BTW, as far as creepy Christmas goes, reality is stranger than fiction. In Alpine countries, Santa travels with an avenging demon who takes retribution on bad boys and girls. Witness Krampus:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Krampus_at_Perchtenlauf_Klagenfurt.jpg

bdwilcox
bdwilcox
9 years ago

Amazingly, yes, I did eat them again. It took a while, but who can resist the siren’s song of the maraschino cherry? I eventually realized that they only take on their magical aura once they’ve been dunked in some kind of alcoholic beverage. This both softens their flavor and fogs my memory of the night they took their revenge.

Without a doubt, they are one of my foods of shame. Other horrible concoctions that I love but am ashamed to admit are: White Castle hamburgers, Spaghettios with sliced franks, Taco Bell (pretty much anything on the menu), and bleu cheese (tons and tons of that moldy, blue, stinky fromage).

Eshbaal
9 years ago

I watched this a few days ago, and oh my goodness, how I absolutely loved it. The “Santa” they find was just delightfully creepy, just sitting there without saying a word, and then it just escalates to incredible levels. And I am sure I was not the one laughing like crazy at the wole “they only stole the sacks” thing. So much potato!

When you say “Saint Nick”, are yout hinking of the dutch movie “Sint”? Planning to watch that one myself today (and then top it off with Muppet Christmas Carol or Scrooged tomorrow – hey, I love those movies, and don’t come tell me they don’t have some scary shit)

Eshbaal
9 years ago

Just watched “Sint”. The confusion is understandable, let me try to cover it quick: “Sint” MEANS “Saint”. “Sinterklass” is the name of the dutch equivalent of Santa (Saint Nicholas – Saint Nick). So basically, all those titles just cover everything (and they don’t actually say Santa Claus, they say Sinterklass. Not quite the same thing).

Thank the heavens for having a dutch friend to explain these things to me.

And Scrooged is awesome. Probably my favorite rendition of the story (even if Muppet Christmas Carol still makes me weep like a child to this day).

Eshbaal
9 years ago

Oh wow, I’ve never even heard of that one. It looks delightfully insane, though. That cross thing had me laughing like a loon.