Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nevermore Flashback: Rare Exports (2010)

With Nevermore 2012 just weeks away, I've decided to post some reviews of films that I saw there last year. These will include a mix that range from low-budget features and short films to some films which have since gotten wider releases. These reviews were originally posted on my personal blog (which no longer exists). I'll be posting reviews and info from this year's fest later on in February. In the meantime, enjoy!

There's something inherently sinister about Santa Claus - that mystical arbiter who watches children throughout the year, keeping track of good deeds and bad, and eventually meting out rewards and punishment at the end of the year. Okay, maybe not so much punishment, at least in the majority of the western world. Although Santa isn't quite so jolly everywhere, as anyone familiar with Krampus knows. Evil Santas are scattered throughout horror films, but none I've seen could so far could stand up against the mythological demon-Santa of Rare Exports. I more-or-less knew the premise of this movie going into it, but I was still blown away by how much fun it was.

Young Pietari is a Finnish boy who’s not looking forward to Christmas this year. He’s somehow managed to get his hands on all sorts of sinister-looking grimoires that show the original Santa (who resembles a demon more than a jolly fat man) doing things like ripping children apart and boiling them alive. Not that Pietari’d have to worry if he hadn’t been especially naughty this year… Meanwhile, up on a mountaintop overlooking the village, some English archaeologists are digging up what they believe is the corpse of Jolly Old St. Nick. This corpse still has a pulse though. When all hell starts to break loose and bloodthirsty elves begin to kidnap all the children in the village, Pietari has to man up and figure out a way to get himself back on the nice list before there are no more days left on the advent calendar.

Rare Exports is as clever as it is fun. I thought I more or less knew the direction it was heading early on, but it continually surprised me with multiple twists and a villain on a much larger scale than I expected. You have to love a movie where the characters haul away souvenir Santa-parts and talk about the magic of Christmas while massive explosions go off in the background. In a slightly less prudish world, this would be a great kids’ movie. (Although be prepared for a little bit of Santa-dong.) The violence isn’t excessive, but it isn’t toned down when it is present. The film relies more on suspense that’s built up bit by bit as the countdown to Christmas eve draws closer and Saint Nick awakens.

This is one of the most clever horror movies I’ve seen in a while, and it maintains the difficult balance of being dark but at the same time light-hearted. Even though Christmas is several months gone, I'd watch this at any point in the year.

8.5/10 = Definitely worth seeing

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