Friday, December 21, 2012

REVIEW: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

For all the people who really want a Christmas movie about an evil Santa Claus…well, you could go watch Santa’s Slay. But since I talked about that last year, this year I’m diving into Rare Exports, a Finnish horror comedy about a small mining town that comes across the real live Santa Claus buried under a mountain and then tries to pawn him off for money to the corporate bigwigs. It’s…well, let’s just take a look.

Director: Jalmari Helander
Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila

We start off with two dumb kids who are the product of such good parenting that they can sneak into a dangerous mining operation where they could be killed at any moment by large, sharp and unpredictable equipment. But it’s OK, because the miners don’t even notice – they’re too busy listening to some fat white businessman talk about how they’re about to uncover something amazing.

"Allow me to take all the credit for your hard work!"

We don’t know what it is yet. But this little kid, named Pietari, has an idea of what it might be as he looks through his old fairy tale books and concludes that it must be Santa Claus. But not the bright and happy Coca Cola Santa Claus of American commercialism; no – this is the evil children-slaughtering Santa Claus of old, buried under the ice because a bunch of villagers tricked him out onto it and then buried him in rocks, creating the mountain that they’re all standing on.

Okay…where the hell do I even start?

For one, what, a little kid solves this whole thing in a matter of one night while a team of grown men are still confused? I guess there is something to be said for Occam’s Razor – the simplest answer is the right answer. And in this case, the simplest answer is…if there’s a mysterious thing underground, it must be Santa Claus. Indeed.

Those footprints look pretty small for the huge creature this movie is saying Santa is., don't they? 

Two, so if this Santa was so bad, how did he get tricked so easily by a bunch of villagers? Seems like the big bad children-murdering fear-monger isn’t so smart. Why should we even be afraid of this guy anyway?

All that brawn and muscle and horns and he's a great big idiot who gets fooled by a stupid trick by some rustic village folk. Wow.

Well, either way, it’s apparently Santa Claus, as foretold by a little Finnish child who dresses like he should be riding a short bus. He tells his best friend Jusso about this, but Jusso doesn’t believe him, probably because Jusso is actually sane. Meanwhile, Pietari’s father and another guy from the village find a mysterious naked old man unconscious and assume he’s one of the miners from up on the mountain. They come to the conclusion that they’ve captured Santa Claus. They’re about to kill him when Pietari spots them…

"Aw, man, daddy's killing someone in the garage again...I feel a lifetime's worth of psychiatry sessions coming from this..."

And then he runs away to the cops! The father is so concerned that he just stands there and waits around for, I dunno, the new world to rise up after Armageddon I guess, before actually going after him at a very stately, relaxed pace that is more like the walk of someone who just had too many Hot Wings at TGI Fridays. Pietari ends up at Jusso’s house where he goes upstairs to find his friend and instead finds…

Because this creepy voodoo doll placed in the bed of a small child doesn’t denote kidnapping or ANY kind of wrongdoing, the adults, INCLUDING THE FRIGGIN POLICE, just shrug it off as a prank. No way somebody could have snuck into his room and taken him away against his will, right? HAS to be a stupid prank! Hell, when I was his age, I put a creepy voodoo doll in my bed so I could sneak out undetected ALL THE TIME! It’s just what kids do!

After that, the villagers go back to the creepy naked Santa they kidnapped and start harassing him for information, shouting at him in several different languages. When he doesn’t respond…they keep on shouting…they truly are geniuses that way…and then they decide to ransom him to the big rich corporate guys who wanted him in the first place. Because every good Christmas movie was always missing a hostage ransom scene orchestrated by the good guys!

They go to get their money, of course bringing the little kid with them because THAT’S the right thing to do. When they try to bargain with the rich guy, they find out that DUN DUN DUN…they don’t really have Santa at all; just one of his elves! Before they have a chance to ruminate on this huge plot twist, they get attacked by…

The greatest Christmas image ever.

Yup. Naked old white men running in the snow. I can’t even make this shit up. But hey, at least this movie gave the geriatrics at the old folks’ home something to do on a rainy day. There is that. “Hey, want to come star in our Christmas-ized version of The Thing with way less atmosphere and scares?” “Sounds awesome!”

After the bourgeois white men are all dead, the main characters go into this warehouse conveniently right next to the spot where they were all meeting, and find out that the elves have been kidnapping children all throughout the village, stuffing them in bags and are waiting to feed them to the giant horned Santa trapped in the ice. They’re trying to defrost the ice with a bunch of stolen ovens, heat generators and even hairdryers. Yes, hairdryers – the elves have stolen hairdryers to try and defrost a mountain-sized block of ice encasing their fallen leader. That’s…so stupid I can’t even put it into words.

The little kid suddenly picks up a gun and starts commanding the adults to gather explosives so they can destroy Santa. Yup…just out of nowhere, he suddenly becomes John McClane as a Finnish boy. If the adults were the ones orchestrating this whole thing, sure, it’d be retarded too, but when the 8 YEAR OLD BOY is the one leading them all? C’mon. But it works out somehow, they save all the kids and Pietari is the new action hero for Finland. Happy day!

The makers of the Die Hard series will be knocking on this kid's door any day now.

But wait! There’s more! Apparently afterwards, they kidnap the elves and train them to be Santa Clauses themselves, and ship them all around the world, cooped up in wooden boxes no less, to make money. Gee, doesn’t that remind you of another shameful chapter of human history?

Eh. Could just be a coincidence.

But yeah, that’s the end of this whole thing, and wasn’t it just perfectly lame? The characters are all either dull or stupid, the plot is just a rip off of The Thing, the humor isn’t that great and it’s just not that impressive of a movie. The idea is interesting but the execution just isn’t very stirring. And seriously, we never even see the Santa Claus in this movie! The big monster that the whole movie builds up to, is never shown on screen! What kind of bullshit is that? I guess I’ll just assume he looks like Bill Goldberg.

Merry Christmas!