Respectful Reel Review #15


Rare Exports




Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Per Christian Ellefsen, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen, Ilmari Järvenpää, Peeter Jakobi, Jonathan Hutchings, Risto Salmi


Jalmari Helander


An archeological dig is happening in the Korvatunturi mountains of Finland, where far beneath the surface a corporation seeks to unearth the most closely guarded secret about Christmas and the real Santa Claus, but when children start disappearing a boy, his father, and a group of hunters have to fend off a bunch of grumpy elves and the real Santa Claus.


This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus


The story begins with a British corporation — Subzero — drilling in the Korvatunturi mountains of Finland, an area believed to be the legendary home of Joulupukki, a figure that helped to shape our modern ideas of Santa. Joulupukki literally translated means Christmas Goat, so start letting your mind go, Folks, because it’s going to be a fun ride.

Two curious boys, Juuso and Pietari, watch the men work and hear them talk about the possible true existence of Santa. When the workers start lacing the area with explosives, the boys leave the site, arguing about Santa.

Pietari is not content to leave the discussion as it is, so he proceeds to do research on Santa Claus. His research appears to suggest that Santa is horned, whips naughty boys and girls, and takes the really bad and boils them in a cauldron.

Pietari’s father — Rauno — is a butcher. He has set a pit trap in the backyard to protect the property against wolves. He then calls Pietari to join him and his hunter friends in order to herd the reindeer as they come down from the mountains, so that the townsfolk can have meat for the winter. However, only two lonely, skinny runts make it through, and the hunters are worried.

No reindeer means, no meat, and no meat means it is going to be a sad Christmas. The hunters track the reindeer and find hundreds of reindeer carcasses ostensibly ruined by wolves. The carcasses are gnawed to the bone, unlike what wolves would normally do.

The wolves must have been driven insane by the periodic explosions at the top of the mountain, Rauno believes and tells his friends. Pietari examines the carcasses himself, but he has a differing theory from his father. He tells Juuso, but Juuso is far more concerned with his father finding out that he and Pietari were spying on the Subzero workers.

Because the butcher shop has been on the verge of bankruptcy, Rauno is feeling very bleak when they return home. Tomorrow is Christmas. He bakes some gingerbread and sends Pietari to bed. The following morning, Rauno finds that the pit trap has worked. Instead of a wolf, he has trapped a naked old man.

Pietari was preparing ever since he read about Joulupukki and Santa. He has set traps in his house and was afraid to do wrong. He actually asked his father for a spanking for a perceived wrong in the hopes of allaying possible retribution from Santa Claus. When the hunters come over, he asks Juuso’s father where is Juuso, and the man says he hasn’t seen his son all day.

Pietari goes running to Juuso’s house to check up on Juuso. In Juuso’s bed is a straw doll left by Santa, and it is then that Pietari realizes that Santa has taken all of his friends. When Pietari returns to his father’s butchering room, he sees the old man that was found in the trap. The hunters had questioned the old man with little success. Suddenly, his attention is drawn to the boy and the hunters must hold him back from harming Pietari.


I usually like to leave the plot at around the halfway point, so that there are no spoilers given in an attempt to advance the plot. Hence, that’s why I’m stopping here. Clearly, this is a Finnish, Christmas Horror film. It is not hardcore with the blood and gore, although there is some. I don’t believe it has any expletives, although it DOES have a great deal of old man nudity. In this regard, it probably skirts the R rating.

One of the best things about this movie is the originality of the concept, which may not be quite so original because it is based on Finnish mythology, but it still feels fresh. The plot has a clear trajectory. As it develops, it is logical in structure, holding together cohesively, and building suspense organically.

The budget is $1.8 million, which is tiny by any studio standards. Yet, the movie does not suffer for it’s budget. The cinematography is lush. Location scouting is perfect. The directing is really good, and so is the editing. Those two things really need to mesh in order to have a good movie that can exploit the scares.

Horror movies are known for the ambience and mood conveyed by the camera work and settings. The set design fits the story being conveyed in interesting and dynamic ways. This movie capitalizes on that. The actors are better than adequate. Visual effects are also top notch for the fact that this movie’s budget is less than 2 million. The music is also good.

This movie has won several awards so obviously, I am not in the minority. This is a good Christmas horror movie. It isn’t hardcore horror, but it has it’s moments. It is foreign so it has subtitles. I know that it bothers some people. Oh well, put on your adult diapers and be prepared to pee yourselves just a little bit.

This is a four out of five on our Grey Geeks scale. An Excellent Christmas Horror holiday watch.

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