Saturday, October 23, 2010

LFF 2010: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Like Winter Vacation (reviewed yesterday and also showing today), more snowy desolation abounds in Almari Helander’s debut film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. But this time the setting is a much more grim (bordering on Grimm) and fable-like Finland (bordering on Lapland). There are 24 days to go until Christmas, and high on a mountain a mysterious company called Subzero Inc. are drilling deep, deep down; they discover something, or is it someone, encased in ice. All the local townsfolk are told is that they are to be very very good. A knowing farm boy (Onni Tommila) and his father (Jorma Tommila) latch onto the shady goings-on and decide to investigate further...

It’s a Christmas film for people who hate Christmas: a tale very much about the festive period, but via the quite possibly warped imagination of a Scrooge-like misanthrope. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a kid’s film, essentially, although this is debatable: it uneasily sits as outright family entertainment, but skimps on the potential gore it occasionally teases the viewer with (some judicious cutting occurs at crucial points). There’s fun to be had, but intermittently; the narrative mid-section does drag somewhat. Some moments during the build-up to the tense finale are inspired, however, and far more crafty and well-plotted than I initially expected.

Rare Exports exists in a strange place somewhere between a Tim Burton-esque seasonal romp and a middling horror concept stitched onto a yuletide yarn. Not as good as other quasi-kid-flicks like Joe Dante’s recent The Hole or Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai War for instilling a light terror into your tykes, but worth seeing for its weird way with tall tales. It's decked in all the festive filmic trimmings, but worn in an oh-so-wrong fashion. One thing’s for sure: you won’t want to meet Santa’s Little Helpers after seeing this film. C

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is at the LFF on Saturday 23rd & Tuesday 26th October

1 comment:

Dempsey Sanders said...

maybe because it sounds completely weird I might give it a go, although does'nt sound something I would normally go for.
Great post