Baddie: I mean, I guess…uh…Santa? That seems wrong.
Lesson: Finnish men are crazy.
Merry Christmas, you guys! I, for one, am really looking forward to heading home and taking an actual vacation! Grad school is the pits! Yayyyyyyyy!
This week, you ALMOST had to sit through another awful Christmas Movie like last year (strange Danish horror, anyone?) but James (once again) hit me with a suggestion to watch Rare Exports, incidentally a Finnish movie, about “local reindeer herders rac[ing] to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus”. SIGN ME UP.
The movie begins with some unusual expedition shenanigans. Something about a large icebox under the ice, found when drilling. It becomes apparent that it is a grave. Stylistically, the film is a little bit like Tim Burton’s Batman, but….colder. There are also small children around, the children of reindeer herders/something, who round-up the animals into a pen for food for the winter. I think it’s safe to assume that the grave in question is Santa’s grave, but also that this is a tale that relies heavily on the Krampus myth, popular in Scandinavian culture, which entails a Santa-esque character that beats children with switches, kidnaps, and occasionally eats them. The expedition leads to some problems with wolves and the reindeer migration, which in turn is a problem for those who need the reindeer to survive.
I’m just going to go ahead and say that I love listening to Finnish. It’s delightful. Like English, but spoken backwards. If you ever want to watch another great Finnish movie, check out Troll Hunter.
Small signs of Santa are popping up. Footprints outside of Pietari’s window on the second floor balcony, and a footprint around the reindeer carcasses. The expedition team has also inexplicably left the site the following night when the reindeer men go to investigate (I have no accurate vocabulary for either of these two groups of people).
The cinematography is over-saturated, but I like it. It feels like a holiday card, or a Thomas Kinkade painting. The characters are real and well rounded. The plight of a single dad trying to raise his son to be a reindeer wrangler and somehow be tough and compassionate is really well done. Simple things, like the butcher father making gingerbread cookies with a ragged old floral apron.
I do have to admit, though, despite some sizeable drama in the way of a man dying in a wolf trap and the impending threat of Santa, this movie is a tiny bit slow around the halfway mark. However, the wolf pit is illegal, so the father and a friend decide to chop up the body instead. Then the body starts living again. Some other business happens, and basically Pietari’s friend is taken. Then we get back to the body, who is also suddenly fairly violent, in that he has bitten someone’s ear. We also learn that most of the other children were taken that night.
Slowly, the group puts the pieces together and figures out that the violent old man is Santa Claus, so naturally they tie him up and hold him ransom to the original expedition team. During the trade, the expedition leader from before is back, and he realizes something quite important – the old man is not Santa. He’s an elf. Santa is still out there. Moreover, there are dozens of terrifying old men encircling the drop point now. That’s fine, I didn’t need to sleep again ever.
Oh yeah, and Santa is huge (albeit encased in ice). And the missing radiators from before are being used to melt him out of the ice. On the plus side, the kids are all in the warehouse too, so they’re easier to rescue. On the not-so-plus side, the ice is soon weak enough to let Santa bust out. On the even more plus side, there are a ton of explosives.
I don’t want to spoil the end, because, Christmas, but I will tell you a few things.
1. This is easily the most surreal movie I have ever watched about Christmas.
2. It’s kind of genius, but kind of slow.
3. My quota of seeing ‘old man penis’ is pretty full now, so, thanks Finland.
Feel free to tweet me any questions, recommendations, comments, compliments, whatever! Really, I just like the attention.