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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale


Stars: Onni Tommila, Jorna Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Jonathan Hutchings

Director: Jalmari Helander

A bizarre hybrid, this film from the land of the midnight sun starts off as a skewed horror movie, and develops in its later stages into a fantasy-adventure (with a junior hero) which even permits itself some belly laughs at the end.

Nothing in the picture is remotely convincing, even if you buy its basic premise, yet you have to give it marks for originality.

In Lapland, English engineers are dynamiting what appears to be a massive man-made mountain, looking for a secret it holds deep below. Meanwhile, local workers are dismayed to find a herd of reindeer slaughtered, depriving them of both food and livelihood. That makes it even harder to believe that the young hero's father would actually burn their chicken to a crisp when the only other thing they have to eat is ginger biscuits.

While engineers are being massacred up on the mountain, 10-year-old Pietari (Onni Tommila) has been swotting up on his legends, and discovers Santa Claus was really a fiend in satanic form who liked to eat small children. After they discover an ancient bearded man injured in a pit Pietari's father has dug to trap wolves, even the adults become convinced he's Santa. But why have all radiators, ovens and sacks in the community disappeared?

Despite its fun finale, this is not really even for older children (as the certificate would indicate), especially any who might be frightened (or bored) by some of the earlier scenes.

David Quinlan

Finland/Norway/Sweden 2010. UK Distributor: Icon . Colour by Finn-Lab.
79 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Nov 2010