A Rare Treat!
Young kid Pietari (Onni Tommila) and his father live near the Korvatunturi mountains right next to the border with Russia. On the mountain, men are gathered, using explosives to tunnel deep down. Pietari and his friend sneak over to see what is going on and they find that these scientists have discovered something buried in the mountain. They, and Pietari, think it is Santa Claus, frozen and imprisoned in a giant block of ice. It seems that Santa is really a malevolent force of evil and punishment, according to the oldest legends, and the people of this area captured him and froze him and buried him deep. Now he has been dug out, Pietari fears, and will soon be coming for the kids in the area. Sure enough, the kids disappear, even as Pietari’s father and a couple of local men capture a strange man and hold him hostage. Pietari reveals what he knows and the men think they have caught Santa himself. They contact the scientist who runs the dig and demand ransom money for the return of Santa. What they don’t understand yet is that the creature they hold isn’t Santa, and the real thing is about to be freed from his giant block of ice prison.
Rare Exports is a film I saw a long time ago when it first came to Blu Ray. I was excited to see it after reading fantastic reviews. It seemed this was something special. I bought it and watched it and was completely bored. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it sure wasn’t anything great, either. So I let it sit. Now in doing this run of Christmas Horror/Exploitation films, I decided to revisit it. I must have been in a bad mood when I first watched it, because I was completely wrong. This is a wonderful little movie, full of interesting characters and some pretty cool and original ideas. Tommila steals the show, of course, but the adult actors are equally terrific as they portray tough, rugged men doing what they feel they need to do to protect their children and their families. The “elves” are an interesting touch, too, as they resemble skinny Mall Santa’s (thus leading to the fantastical conclusion) rather than the oddly-eared humanoids we usually see. I like the way the movie starts off grounded in reality, in the very earthly needs and wants of Pietari’s family, and as it expands, grows more and more into a fairy tale. By the end, it is fully immersed in fantasy, dark and scary and wonderful and bright all at once. This is a hard maneuver to pull off and the makers of Rare Exports do just that, with much skill and aplomb. The film is at once terrifying and fanciful, adult and yet geared towards children. It walks that fine line with precision and care. And don’t get me started on the amazing cinematography.
In short, this is a damned good movie, and I’m very happy I gave it another chance. The fault was with me originally, and now a wrong has been made right. This one is probably too violent for young kids but also too kiddy for teens, so it’s hard to gauge what age group it is best for. Adults will probably like it most. So make yourself a mug of hot chocolate, fill it full of marshmallows, and sit your ass down in front of the TV to give this holiday classic a spin. If it’s your first time or you’ve seen it before, the season is right and so is this film. Truly something special.
Streaming on Shudder.