|Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale|
Santa Claus is not the jolly “Coca-Cola” picture of kindness that we’ve come to know and love. Rather, he is a monster that catches and dismembers naughty children. Based on the Short film Rare Exports Inc. This film follows a group of men that are pitted head to head against Santa Clause and his army. While the premise sounds like the perfect recipe for a Mystery Science Theater episode, what we’re treated to instead is a well crafted fantasy tale that takes itself seriously both in storytelling and film crafting. It would have been easy to take this premise and crank out a no holds barred goofy horror movie based on the holidays. However, this movie is more akin to Jurassic Park or Gremlins.
We’re introduced to a small community in a snow covered wilderness that makes their living by hunting reindeer. Their livelihood is threatened when they find that all the reindeer in the area have been mysteriously killed. This event happens simultaneously with the unearthing of a massive burial tomb unearthed within their region. The only person that recognizes the signs of what is happening is a young boy. The boy is absolutely terrified of Santa Claus, going so far as to ask his father to spank him with a switch because he’s been bad. What he has learned from his research is that the true Santa Claus lives for punishing bad children. The story seems to combine the characters of St. Nicholas and Krampus. Krampus being an “old world” demon with a goat like appearance who, in legends, accompanied St. Nicholas and punished the bad children.
It’s such a campy premise that you can’t help but expect this movie to be a joke filled romp with plenty of over-the-top violence to accompany it’s R rating. But this is just as much adventure as it is horror. We’re given time to get to know the characters and their lifestyle, the cinematography is very good and the whole atmosphere gave the film a Spielberg-like sense of wonder similar to E.T. or Super8 The pacing of this movie was a little slow for what I was expecting, but not to the point of it being unbearable by any means.
Not since Trollhunter have I seen a movie take such a ridiculous premise and make so much of it. The film doesn’t openly joke about the fact that Santa Claus is the villain, it embraces it wholeheartedly and the characters are forced to play by those rules with dead seriousness. This includes some tongue in cheek humor but mostly it’s just a fun dark fantasy movie that has very few other films to compare to itself.