Back in the distant past of 2005 two ten or so minute shorts showed up on the internet showing dangerous cargo being hunted down, tamed and shipped in time for the holidays. The cargo was some of the most rare and dangerous pray on the planet, Santa Claus. Not only did it take skilled craftsmen to hunt them down and tame them it seemed that strict rules still had to be obeyed such as no smoking, no swearing, clean behind your ears and so forth. In fact I still recall a Jurassic Park Raptor situation when these were not followed. They were dark, funny and to the point without ever labouring the point. So it was something of a shock to find that five years later they had done a movie.
Probably aware that the short running time had worked in their favour last time Rare Exports comes in about eighty minutes keeping it also short, sharp and to the point and there is a danger that had it run any further it would have derailed in a snow drift and been stuck still spring. Instead the movie fades in at the start of December and then jumps ahead to Christmas eve when all the action happens. Apparently aware what happened when the Swedes dug something out of the ice last time the Yanks have decided to get there first and begun to excavate a mountain by a small town where some ancient society have created some kind of giant primitive ice box via ice and sawdust.
Unfortunately they don’t get to appreciate their find and it is up to a small band to head up to find out what they are playing at and how this could have lead to the death of an entire heard of reindeer, their livelihood or in more simple terms the equivalent of 85,000 plus a 22 percent VAT. While the adults go to get some recompence their children have other ideas. Jusso wants to hush up the fact that it was they that cut through the wire fence to see what was happening and Pietari is concerned that what they were after was the tomb of Kriss Kringle. Now I will say that it was a bit abrupt for him to come up with this notion seen as only five minutes before Jusso is pointing out that the Santa who visits him every year with a sack full of toys is his dad’s friend in a suit and beard. However as I said the short run time works in the films favour and it tries to quickly skim over this fact to get to the meat of the film.
So after a reading session worthy of Gandalf, Pietari along with the worlds ugliest teddy bear Vuppe tries to survive a day where the children of the town have all been taken to be replaced by some strange straw dolls along with a barn full of potato sacks and every heating device in the town. Though this is nothing compared to the old man found in his Dad’s wolf pit. The man taken in and apparently dead until he gets a whiff of a child.
Okay so for those brushed up on the festive mythology they will notice that the movie draws more upon the legend of Krampus than what most of us would consider Father Christmas. However there is something to be said for the somehow scary image of a wizened slightly pot-bellied old man starring you down. Maybe it’s just the idea that it could be Cohen the Barbarian and certainly a better one than we got in ‘The Colour of Magic’ even without speaking.
As for the characters in the movie who aren’t festive legends, they all come across quite well with the relationship between the father and son coming across quite well if a little heavy handed as we see a family clearly one person short, though the mother is not directly addressed.
The DVD itself is a bit bare bones with only the option for playing the movie and picking a scene meaning no extras nor an alternative for the native language and subtitles. So if you’re one of those people who can’t read and watch you might want to skip this movie and the same goes for those who do actually speak the language. Also don’t expect the original shorts to show up and I can’t help but wonder if that’s because the movie doesn’t quite hit the same high.
The movie serves as a prequel to the selves with the main cast clearly supposed to be the hunters from the original. Now if you’ve seen the shorts then this is worth a go with your expectations slightly lowered. For others I would say that this is a good step up from those regularly watching the likes of ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ or ‘Santa Claus vs the Martians’.
Of course while the original shorts have gone walkabouts and are not included on the DVD I have performed a Christmas miracle.