Rare Exports on Blu-ray/DVD

Sunday, 27 November 2011 12:27

24 days before Christmas in the icy Lapland mountains, some archeological miners believe they have discovered something truly remarkable: the tomb of Santa Claus. Shortly afterwards the dig site is found abandoned and dozens of reindeer are slaughtered. Inquisitive children Pietari (Onni Tommila) and Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää) sense something is up but the adults will have none of it…Until they unwittingly catch a bizarre, wiry old man in a trap meant for wolves.

Unlike your typical Hollywood, saccharin-sweet Christmas fare, “Rare Exports” is prickly, unpredictable and more than a little quirky. Pietari suspects that – assuming he exists - the real Santa Claus is not a chubby, jolly old man but rather is a mean-spirited, demonic being whose physical abilities belie his apparent age, and whose sole mission is to punish naughty children in unspeakable ways. Having secretly broken into the dig site with Juuso, and possibly been indirectly responsible for the reindeer deaths, the frightened boy fears the worst.

Rare Exports - A Christmas Tale on Blu-ray & DVDWhat follows is at once macabre, endearing and about as left-field as you can get. The movie keeps you guessing until the very end, and although the pace can be a little plodding at times, a persistent atmosphere of dread and awe pervades it. We are swept along with Pietari and Rauno, his father (Jorma Korpela); father and son have a slightly uneasy relationship as they are borderline destitute thanks to the premature deer slaughter. Adding insult to injury, the mother presumably died recently making this their first Christmas without her. Life is harsh and unforgiving, and some meals consist solely of gingerbread biscuits.

The film never becomes too bleak or dark however, and there is plenty of warmth between father and son, and within the tightly-knit community living in their remote location. The tone of the film is quite unique, sharing elements from “The Thing” and The X-Files, combined with a dash of “I am Legend” and a generous sprinkling of “Gremlins”, but even then it is very difficult to define. There is wonder, horror, humour, suspense and pathos, and just when it really gets going the movie ends and you are left wanting so much more. Some questions remain unanswered…

Visually, even on DVD the film is quite a treat; most scenes take in some wonderful snow-covered hills and mountain ranges, and director Jalmari Helander ensures there is plenty of colour amidst the perfect, untouched snow. The later stages feature a decent dollop of special effects and although some of them look very slightly fake, the heightened pace distracts the viewer enough to avoid it becoming an issue.

To sum up, this is an unusual and refreshing teenager-friendly horror film with enough depth, mythology and originality to genuinely keep everyone entertained – young and old.

The main feature has to endure chilly isolation on the disc as there are no special features to keep it company – not even a gingerbread biscuit recipe!

“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale " (2010) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Icon Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 80 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99 for either format, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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