It’s the first Friday of December and that means that it’s FINALLY Christmas movie recommendation time! I can’t hold out on this one so I’m actually going to recommend my favourite (or at least one of my top three favourites) movie for you guys today. There’s a couple reasons for this. Firstly, it’s awesome. Secondly, some of you may have heard about a movie coming out today called Krampus. Well, remember how annoyed I was that Hunger Games ripped off the incredible Battle Royale? It’s the same thing here. The storyline is classic European folklore but I don’t want to hear everyone going on and on about how unique and interesting it is when the movie was already made in 2010 (Rare Exports) – and it’s amazing. Ugh. America, ripping off all the great foreign films. Anyways, I digress, I suppose it’s about time to get to the review.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is based on the European legend that the first Santa Clause is a giant horned beast (Krampus) who comes out around Christmas to punish naughty children. Young Pietari (Onni Tommila) knows that something is amiss when local children start to go missing and reindeer are being found dead. His father is a reindeer herder and with all the dead reindeer about, there is a serious concern for their livelihood. Though no one believes him, Pietari knows that these strange occurrences have something to do with this ancient version of Santa and he is determined to stop him before it’s too late.
This horror-fantasy-thriller-comedy directed by Jalmari Helander is as terrifying as it is surprisingly funny. It really taps in to the original folklore and pays homage to the rich history. Pietari’s earnest nature and strong beliefs make us believers too, at least for the 80 minute running time. And, although it has some funny moments, it is never campy. This films plays it really straight laced which only adds to the lore and the tension; there is a lot of buildup in this film and the stakes are high.
Another positive for this film is the cinematography and the score. The locale is small village by Korvatunturi mountain in Finland and the shots make the best use of the beautiful scenery. Similarly, the score is wonderful and does nothing but add to the feeling of the film.
Best of all though, is that this still feels like a Christmas movie. It has a struggling family that finds its way and gets closer throughout the movie; it has a sense of hope and community; it is full of whimsical and festive atmosphere; it’s perfect.
All in all, this is a great Christmas movie that you shouldn’t miss this season. It is pretty dark and scary, which isn’t common in Christmas movies, but it’s also beautiful to watch, filled with rich Christmas folklore and truly endearing characters. Watch it!