|RARE EXPORT: A CHRISTMAS TALE (director/writer: Jalmari Helander; screenwriter: Jalman Helander; cinematographer: Mika Orasmaa; editor: Kimmo Taavila; music: Juri Seppa/Miska Seppa; cast: Onni Tommila (Pietari), Jorma Tommila (Rauno), Per Christian Ellefsen (Riley), Tommi Korpela (Aimo), Rauno Juvonen (Piiparinen), Ilmari Jarvenpaa (Juuso), Peeter Jakobi (Santa), Nils Nymo (Elf); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Petri Jokiranta; Oscilloscope Pictures; 2010-Finland-in Finnish and English, with English subtitles)|
it's a silly folklore tale. But I found
it both pleasingly absurd and funny."
by Dennis Schwartz
The directorial debut of Jalmari Helander ("Big Game"), where he is writer-director of this dead-pan humorous take on Nordic myth. To the right viewer, this offbeat Finnish Christmas tale should be a hoot. Jalmari's brother Jalman is co-writer. It's a horror tale about an evil Santa brought back to life in modern times, that offers many nightmarish surprises and a vision of Christmas not a part of the jolly American experience.
It's set in northern Finland
a few days before Christmas, in the depths of
the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, wherein
lies a guarded secret of Christmas.
The cute Finnish
kid, Pietari (Onni Tommila), suddenly
becomes Woody Allen-like paranoid after all his
friends go missing, believing Santa hates his guts
and wants a piece of him. If you think this is
ridiculous, you're watching a film not meant for
you. The kid protects himself wearing at all times
hockey gear (pads and helmet) and slinging a rifle
over his shoulder. The kid lives with his widowed
butcher father Rauno (Jorma Tommila).
The father and son here are also a real-life pair.
workers at a multinational corporation
have unearthed an ancient burial site, where they
plan on recovering a preserved frozen old
fat man believed to be Kris
Kringle. The Finns call their
Santa "Joulupukki" ("Yule Goat"). The
Joulupukki of Scandinavian legend was a demonic,
horned goat-man who would make the rounds during
Christmas to either carry off or torture the bad
children. Also dug up were Santa's helpers, who
are just as mean-spirited as the boss and eager
to get their mitts on the bad kids.
OK. it's a
silly folklore tale, that's played straight and
not for camp. But I found it both pleasingly
absurd and funny. It was done in an arty way,
and the acting is as solid as a block of ice.
The comedy has its funny moments, such as an elf
hanging on a meat market hook.
REVIEWED ON 12/19/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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