You may not be interested at all, but I feel compelled to tell you about my pick for the best holiday movie. In these days of ABC Family’s 25 Days Of Christmas, and the never ending cavalcade of movies like Santa Buddies, I feel we have to throw a little darkness into the season.
(Anybody who knows me is currently saying to themselves, “Scott, you’re going to go toward the dark end of the holidays? Go on!”)
Yes, it’s true, I have a history of leaning toward things with an edge, the kind of things you read or watch, and like, but don’t tell anybody you like because you don’t want them to think you’re weird or something.
Except this time, the darkness to which I’m leaning is just a tense, visually compelling, sometimes silly fun movie.
Queue up the movie, please:
Rare Exports is a Finnish movie that takes the wholesome image of Santa Claus and makes him perhaps a bit more demon than saint. When a scientist orders the excavation of a nearby mountain, the local reindeer herders find their Christmas harvest disrupted. But when the reindeer end up slaughtered and the local children start disappearing, then a small band of herders and one of their sons realizes perhaps there is something more going on.
This movie is just plain fun. It’s in Finnish with English subtitles, at least on Netflix. It’s possible, even probable that there is an English dubbed version on the DVD, but since I caught it on Netflix I can’t guarantee it.
What makes this film work for me is that you never quite know what to expect next. The herders eventually catch a strange and withered being that looks like a naked, wild-eyed Santa Claus after a couple of years on meth. And when you begin to think that maybe you have a handle on who this mysterious mute being is, it turns out you’re horribly horribly wrong.
There are some moments in the movie that don’t necessarily work as well as the creators intended. When the herders end up at the base camp for the scientific team, trying to make some money by selling off their new-found “animal”, there is a sudden violence that caught me off guard. The heroics at the end are edge over into melodrama and border on downright corny. And the final sequence after the climax of the film stretches the credibly of the entire story.
But who cares? Some of the visuals in this movie are spectacular, the tension is top notch, and it’s easily the most original take on the Santa myth I’ve seen or read about I years, maybe even ever.
Do yourself a favor: sit down and watch this one. Only, not with the kids.