Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Still courtesy of TIFF.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Directed by Jalmari Helander (Finland/Norway/France/Sweden, Discovery)
Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander gained viral acclaim with a pair of short films about a team of elite hunters who captured wild Santa Clauses and domesticated them for use in malls worldwide. In Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale he trades in the faux nature doc style of the shorts (viewable here and here) for something more gleefully sinister, transforming jolly Father Christmas into an ancient demon who once terrorized the indigenous people of Lapland. When an American drilling team unearth Saint Nick’s tomb, it’s up to a local child and a trio of reindeer herders to prevent the festive evil from being released upon the world.
Helander admits to shooting for an “80’s style kid-friendly horror-fantasy vibe,” and it’s a target he hits with a resounding bullseye. Filled with the sort of softcore thrills no longer found in today’s gore-heavy horror scene, Rare Exports evokes classic favourites like Gremlins and Monster Squad. Character development may be a bit light, but Helander takes such indulgent pleasure in concocting a mythology of Santa-monsters that it’s hardly a noticeable hindrance. Unlike the 80’s films to which it plays tribute, Rare Exports is also a visual treat, using the frozen expanse of northern Scandinavia to paint an otherworldly tableau.
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