If Black Christmas brings slashing to the holiday season then Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale brings Guillermo Del Toro. A Finnish horror film that was released in 2010 it gives you a Santa that is very different to the Jolly Old Saint Nick we are all used to.
Set on the border between Lapland and Russia, Rare Exports introduces us to a drilling company who have found something preserved in the core of a mountain. Nearby, the locals find their reindeer herd slaughtered, something that they put down to the dynamite being used in the drilling sending wolves crazy. However, young Pietari has other ideas and has been reading up about the Santa Claus that wasn’t created by Coca Cola.
Of course, it turns out it’s that Santa Claus at the heart of the mountain and trust me if he finds out you’ve been naughty, it won’t be coal in your stocking. This is more Krampus than Jingle Bells, and the sight of this horned beast encased in ice is one that will stick with you long after the film has ended.
Which you might not want. You might be wondering why the hell you would want to watch a movie about a pagan Santa who with his gang of murderous elves is out to kill small children. It’s a viewpoint that is hard to argue with, but we shall point out that there is also a thick vein of dark humour running through this film. Onni Tommila’s performance as Pietari is at times laugh out loud funny and towards the end, he embraces the adventuring side of this film with gusto.
Where this film really succeeds is in the tension. For a long time, we see nothing of this evil Santa, and it’s the snow encrusted landscape that bears the brunt of the horror. This is an isolated world, and director Jalmari Helander takes full advantage of it. It is nothing but the highest of compliments to compare moments of this film to Carpenter classics like The Thing, and when the humour isn’t there, you find yourself on the edge of your seat.
I hadn’t heard of this film until yesterday. However, much like Black Christmas, it shows that for all its bells and whistles Christmas can be an unsettling time of the year. That when the snow falls and the nights grow dark, you maybe don’t want that creepy old bastard sneaking down your chimney after all.
Verdict: Hall of Fame