I’ve been really kind of excited for Rare Exports. Despite the fact that I can’t think of a single good Christmas horror film off the top of my head (besides the original Black Christmas), I have a soft spot for films in that genre. Something about the mixture of the holiday with the darkness of horror intrigues me, and of course, I have an affinity for horror movies with snow in them.
So Rare Exports, a Finnish horror film, had me with my ears perked, anxiously awaiting its release. I’d heard some good things about the film – that it was almost like a Goonies-esque movie about a child who’s father (and his father’s friends) kidnap Santa Claus for ransom. Except that this wasn’t the Coca-Cola Santa we’re used to seeing – no, this was the Santa of legend, who spanked kids with a rod until they bled, and boiled naughty children in stew. Not only that, coming to save Santa would be his diabolical elves, evil nasty creatures who killed people and children.
So yeah…I was intrigued.
I think it’s fair to say that, while I enjoyed Rare Exports, I also was disappointed by it. Going to hit on spoiler(ish) material from here on out … you’ve been warned.
I think the biggest problem with Rare Exports is that it just doesn’t feel worth it in the end. The film takes a while to really get going and once it does, there’s really not much in the way of gore (a scant few deaths) or suspense to really keep the action movie. It’s almost as if the Christmas spirit was with the movie makers, and they didn’t want to go too mean-spirited about it. I mean, there’s a couple of deaths, but really, the film feels like it doesn’t want to get too into the whole “horror” thing.
MAJOR SPOILER COMING…
Not only that, the film’s revelation that the “Santa” they’ve kidnapped is actually one of his elves, and the real Santa is an actual giant horned creature is pretty cool…except that you never get to see the creature. He’s frozen, and he never gets out. First rule of monster movies – show people the monster. Don’t tell people there’s this huge epic thing and then not fulfill the audience’s expectations by never showing them!
END MAJOR SPOILER
Then we get the ending, which is entirely too saccharine for its own good. It’s a cute movie, and I think it aspires to be more like Gremlins than Black Christmas, but it doesn’t quite achieve the success that either have, perhaps because of a relatively unlikeable group of leads, and a lack of genuine suspense. It’s not a bad film – it’s just kind of average, which is a shame with an idea this good.