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T500FC, 423rd: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Jalmari Helander, 2010)

March.23.2011

We have been showered with the goodness of Father Christmas, year after year, movie after movie, and same thing after another. A few exceptions have saved us from the usual and the closest for it is the film Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa, or that’s what I vividly remember. And with Bad Santa, we are just supplied with the artificial jolly old Saint Nick, which basically tells us that usually Santa is just human. Whenever we see the real Santa, it is usually leading on the positive edge. Enter Rare Exports, one of the most impressive Christmas films of 2010.

The narration starts off with a big excavation of some sort in the rural mountains, probably somewhere in the snowy Russian regions. It also features the life of a boy and a father who works as a butcher. Then, children start to disappear one by one, in that small rural town. Much more when the butcher finds a body that looks like Santa Claus. It becomes more and more interesting when the body’s eyes lit up when he sees the butcher’s son.

I’ve wanted to get a sight of this film when it came out last year and previewed in the Austin, Texas’ Fantastic Film Festival, which featured and introduced horror, suspense, and unique films, not just from North America but also from the whole world. As it didn’t gather much attention outside the film fest, it was one of the most memorable, as often induced by the people who saw it last year, which makes the film more interesting.

The film looks exactly like the antithesis of what a Christmas movie should be. Opportunists would obviously say that such film should be shown during the Halloween season, which they didn’t take, and a probable runner for Christmas, which they didn’t take again. And eventually we would all say that this film is a big gamble if it is ever going to go against a Halloween film or a Happy Christmas film much more that the film is foreign.

But what these big companies don’t get is that these types of films gather love from movie fans. I remember when Michael Dougherty’s Trick R Treat had the same scenario and nobody even bothered to take a stab at it, as it wasn’t even shown locally, I think. After seeing the movie, I lent it to a friend who is not a big film buff as me, and it was successful, she liked it. And with that example, it seems that this film, as it would go straight to video, it would get a strong cult following.

And with that, without giving many spoilers for the film, would make you, the reader; wonder if this film is really worth watching. This is a definite go for it film, a movie where a different Santa Claus says hi, and a different set of elves, if ever the term was really right. That is what they call thinking straight out of the box.

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