Sunday, January 1, 2012

Export Opinion

Wish I had watched this before Christmas Day, so I could have recommended what I consider to be a new holiday classic--sort of.

Last year, I came upon a trailer online for a film called Rare Exports. It's a Finnish made film from 2010 that was marketed as a Christmas horror movie, but is actually more of a dark fantasy Christmas movie. It concerns what happens when the one, true, original Father Christmas from Finnish folklore is discovered, entombed inside a mountain on the Russian border and is dug up. This is not jolly old St. Nick, by any stretch. The original Finnish incarnation of Santa Claus is a FAR darker character and way less jolly. It was one of my favorite trailers that I saw last year, but its taken a while for Netflix to get hold of the actual film for it.

While the premise seemed pretty absurd, it was so well-executed that I found it, with its widescreen/HD/cinematic nature completely compelling. (Watch for yourself to see.) I knew then that whoever put this together clearly knew what they were doing from a visual standpoint. However, I suspected that the movie would in no way live up to the promise of the trailer. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Netflix sent me Rare Exports before Christmas, but I didn't manage to watch it until the day after. Not only do I wish I'd watched it earlier, but that I'd showed it to my family while visiting them for Christmas, too, because they would have loved it.

Throughout my viewing of the movie I kept trying to decide whether what I was seeing was one of the most awesome movie's I'd ever seen or the dumbest. Or both. However, the performances of the actors in it, as they portray people forced to deal with pissed off old St. Nick, are so earnest that you just buy into it and go right along for the journey. And a fun journey it is, with more than a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, the less said about which the better.

My main critical point about the film is that by the end of it, it turns into what feels like a kid's adventure movie of the sort where the protagonist children figure out what's going on, have all the answers and show up the adults as they save the day in a fairly implausible way. In this case, the kids (or, kid, really) wind up working along side the adults to save the day in an arguably implausible way, but it still has that feel. I was able to get over that, despite the fact that there did come a point in the end game where a plot choice was made that stuck a knife in the ribs of my suspension of disbelief. It made me think, "Oh, that's bullshit! Nobody would ever let him do THAT. I'm not buying this." Then I remembered that I was watching a movie about people fighting evil Santa Claus and calmed right down.

Overall I really liked Rare Exports. The trailer is a great representation of the film itself. So if the included clip works for you, you'll like the film.

If you do seek this out, be sure to watch the two short Rare Exports films on the DVD, which were made in the years before the feature length movie and which inspire it. I'm not quite sure if they're alternate takes on the story, or stories that, in retrospect, serve as tongue in cheek sequels to the movie. However, while you can find them online right now (and at the Rare Exports webpage), I'd recommend waiting until after seeing the full movie to watch them. They're both great fun, but there are spoilery elements to them that might lessen the enjoyment of the longer film.

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