It might not officially be The 12 Days of Christmas, but FILM IN WORDS will still fill your festive viewing schedule with cheer. From beloved movies that have become an irreplaceable holiday tradition to cult and lesser known Xmas cuts that promise to subvert and haunt your holidays, there’s something for everyone all the way up to Christmas Eve.
Words: Brody Rossiter
REALLY BAD SANTA
When young friends Pietari and Juuso decide to sneak into the top-secret mountain drilling site near their home in northern Finland, Pietari believes they’ve stumbled upon the burial site of Santa Claus. Juuso quickly informs his idealist partner in crime that Santa isn’t real, and to believe otherwise is a clear mark of childishness. Fortunately for the young boy, his youthful wonderment and wild imagination when it comes to the Coca-Cola swilling bringer of presents can live on. Unfortunately, what’s lurking beneath the thick layers of ice, waiting to be awoken the hulking modern machinery, is a far more malevolent form of St. Nick whose wicked legend is set to resurface with disastrous consequences.
After Pietari’s father, a grizzled reindeer hunter with an extremely short fuse, walks into a snowy expanse of the rotten carcasses of his slaughtered prey – a violent crime that will cost him close to $100,000 – he furiously sets about finding the culprit with a shotgun in hand. As events on the mountaintop overlooking Pietari’s home grow more mysterious, his father takes precautions in the form of an elaborate wolf trap sure to dispatch any unwanted visitors, lupine or otherwise. On Christmas morning the pair discover a seemingly deceased, feral old man resting at the bottom of the trip, and his arrival may explain the many strange and violent goings on around the inhospitable, ice-ridden town.
Rare Exports’ decidedly dark and monstrous vision of Santa doesn’t have a naughty or nice list, but rather a fondness for abducting and devouring small children. The Finnish picture is a gloomy fairy tale that effectively juxtaposes Pietari’s wide-eyed gaze with that of the ruthless men who tower above him, including the distinctly abnormal geriatric recovered from his sub-zero cell. The twists and turns of the ghastly, folklore-rich narrative are wonderfully entertaining and often genuinely alarming as Director Jalmari Helander dips his toes into the murky, perishing waters of the horror genre – Santa’s Little Helpers have never looked as terrifying. Rare Exports is an adventurous and subversive contemporary retelling of a beloved Christmas tale that may lead you to booby trap the chimney and install radar on the roof, but will nevertheless fill your stockings with heroism and joviality.