A Horror-Comedy Christmas Film
Alright, with everybody gearing up for the holiday season, I decided to tackle a more unusual movie: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Last year, I had the pleasure of first watching this film with a group of friends and it was a lot better than one might think for a horror-comedy Christmas film set in Finland with very little English in it. All that sure is a mouthful, but join me and see just what makes Rare Exports a hidden cult classic!
The movie takes place in the Korvatunturi mountains, where a Santa Claus is unearthed during an archaeological dig. However, he is not the red-nosed, jolly ol’ fat man you might be envisioning. Children begin to slowly disappear, which leads to a father and his son to get involved when they end up (accidentally) capturing Santa. They cook up a crazy scheme and end up stumbling on a crazy adventure all while the elves do everything they can to set their leader free.
As you can see from the trailer, Rare Exports has this campy kind of vibe. Despite being a horror film, it does lean pretty heavily into comedy territory with some sprinkles of both the mystery and action genres. Either way, whatever you think this film is, you’re likely in for a surprise once you actually watch it.
Let’s talk about what the film does really well, because it does a lot right. First off, setting it in a country that isn’t your typical setting, such as America, England, or Japan, you already have this air of mystique that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Furthermore, Finland has harsh weather and conditions, which couples well with the feeling of isolation that is important to any horror driven story.
Furthering this, you get to see a lot of the daily lives of the characters, especially from the childrens’ point of view. They figure out something is amiss a lot faster than the adults, but they aren’t taken seriously right away, just like you’d expect. However, they still need the adults to ultimately resolve the situation. It strikes that balance that all good Christmas movies have of instilling this sense of importance around family while still playing to horror conventions.
Speaking of, the cast is really good. All of them. I don’t recall a single bad, or ill-placed performance. There’s camp, but it is all totally fitting for the film and doesn’t diminish the final product in any way. Seriously, it is very memorable.
Lastly, the comedy. The funny parts are genuinely funny, and yes, even the, “kid humor” lands fairly well. Rare Exports uses humor to effectively relieve tension from scenes, and sometimes even baits out a more humors moment when you are expecting something like a jump-scare, as an example. More-often-than-not, the film strays away from conventional horror wisdom in favor of light comedy.
All of this is wrapped into a delightful package that has one heck of a climactic ending. I’ve hinted at this already, but this is even a decent family film (though not with small children, of course). It has all the trappings of a traditional Christmas film but with little unique twists and turns that keep things fresh.
As for the bad, I can’t really think of too much to say here. One thing to note is that there is a good amount of nudity. It’s contextualized, and in no way sexual, but understandably this is going to put some people off. Another drawback for some is going to be having to watch a majority of the film with subtitles. While there are a few English speaking characters, and lines where the Finnish cast speak in English, this is one you’re going to have to read.
Most of my readership here are anime fans, so this likely isn’t an issue for most of you, but if you are just popping in from the random recesses of the internet, then I thought you should know about that. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying the film though, it isn’t a dense slog of a story, it is a rather fun romp that is easy to digest.
The final note of concern I could see raised is by the squeamish among you. Rare Exports, as I mentioned previously, really doesn’t contain a lot of actual, “horror” in it. It certainly has its moments, but even the most timid of souls shouldn’t be very bothered watching this. You’ll likely have a fright or two, but the tension is usually released fairly quickly. Naturally, I’d advise younger children do not view this film, but everyone else should be ok.
If you haven’t seen Rare Exports then you should bump this one up on your list of holiday musts, because it is a surprisingly good movie that a lot of people just haven’t heard of. Thankfully, you can find the film very easily in both physical and digital formats on platforms such as Amazon. It isn’t even that expensive, so bonus! Do yourself a favor and give Rare Exports a shot.
Have you seen Rare Exports? What are your thoughts on the film, and will you be giving it a shot this holiday season? Let me hear your voice in the comments below. If you’d like to support my continued efforts in exploring various media, such as this, then please hit my donation button below to gift me a few dollars for the holiday season. As always, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read, and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!