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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Jalmari Helander

Jorma Tommila
Peeter Jakobi
Onni Tommila

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What's it about
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up! This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.
Is it good movie?
I wouldn't consider myself to be a very "big deal" as it comes to my little review gig on the old interweb here, but I think it's safe and fair to say that I watch and review a lot of movies. As it relates to this, I forget about a lot of flicks. Sometimes if I revisit some of my own reviews, I'll come across something and forget that I ever watched it. That is to say that it takes a certain something for a movie to really stand out for me, and I would say there are ten films or less each year that get the title of being highly memorable or recommended.

I'm elated to mention that Rare Exports is going on my "must watch" Christmas list for many holiday seasons to come. It's a little twisted, sprinkled with dark humor and has a plot that keeps you guessing.You see, Santa isn't the loveable fat dude we think he is. No, the truth is that Saint Nick is a bit of a wild man. He was a nasty, nasty individual who used to spank people raw if they'd disobeyed him. I'm talking a huge demon- Santa ain't what you think. His elves? Yeah, they're poor old men who fetch children for the guy. As if the dude breaking into our houses each night wasn't bad enough!

Hearkening back to the old days of "don't underestimate the beliefs of children" movies with a horror twist, this one will certainly keep your attention. The pacing of the film is top notch, as a father and son are going reindeer hunting to sustain themselves while a group of miners have uncovered some sort of creature within the mountains. When the precocious young boy named Pietari (amazingly played by Jorma Tommila) looks into the matter, he finds out that it's Santa himself who's been buried under that mountain.

Yes kids, this is an evil Santa who got buried with good reason, and the young boy is the one leading the charge against evil to try and defend his very life. The movie balances serious and dark scenes with some truly hilarious and surreal moments (lots of male nudity and the scenes with the elves taking charge are memorably demented). Don't forget about the scenery, as Finland makes for one memorable backdrop that is both beautiful and atmospheric. Rare Exports is certainly packed with breathtaking cinematography and visual style. Several times, I was taken aback by how nice the film looked.

I know that I mentioned Jorma Tommila's performance earlier, and it needs to be expanded upon. You really want to root for this downtrodden kid, and believe in him. He's just so darn cute and manages to really come off like an innocent kid, spending a lot of the film  toting around a stuffed bear. Sure, it's a bit of fantasy to believe how much of a heroic leader the young man becomes, but it's compelling fantasy with a dark, dark twist on one evil Saint Nick.

There isn't much about this film that I didn't like. If I have to level any negative criticism, I'll have to say that the final act wraps up a bit too easily for my likings. Isn't really scary but it's certainly not for children. I also loved the couple of twists and turns that keep you interested throughout- learning what the film's title means and the big Santa reveal are both really memorable and clever. Rare Exports tips the typical Christmas film on its head, and makes for a compelling and riveting watch that makes Christmas a bit more like Halloween. On top of that, it's nice to root for an innocent kid again. Like the excavators on the mountain, I dig it.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in  2.35:1 widescreen shining through at 1080p. It looks pretty much flawless, and the film really shines through. I can't commend this picture enough. It's vibrant, sharp and colorful.

Audio is every bit as good as the video, coming to us in a DTS-HD Master 5.1 track that is just phenomenal. This is a mostly Finnish film, and it sounds great.
The Extras
First, I should note that this flick comes with the DVD version of the film as well, and is very handsomely housed in a really cool cardboard sleeve with great art.

If you're not sure whether or not this flick might be for you, you can find its predecessors on the internet, and on this disc. We're talking about the 7 minute Rare Exports Inc. and its 11 minute follow up from a couple years later, Rare Exports - The Official Safety Instructions . These serve as humorous precursors that'll give away a fun part of the movie though, so you might want to wait until after you've watched it.

Also included is a half hour making of featurette that is fairly standard with interviews and some behind the scenes footage.

You will also find four minutes of an animatic and computer effects comparison if you're into that sort of thing.

Next up is Blood in the Snow, an all too brief featurette which shows off the cool art that was created for the production of the film and compares it to the scenes that weer actually shot.

Rounding out the disc are the Finnish Theatrical trailer and a Photo gallery.

Oh, and did I mention that the awful, awful stinker Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is included on this disc? Well, it is. All 100 awful, awful minutes of it. I didn't finish it, but it's hilariously bad (and looks terrible too) and fun to watch with friends.
Last Call
I really liked this flick- it reminded me of something from the eighties like Goonies or Monster Squad, with a bit more badassery mixed in. Almost any audience could watch it (within reason, of course) and be entertained. The flick looks great and the cast is wonderful, I highly recommend it this holiday season.
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