Foreign Fare, Reviews — December 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

FOREIGN FARE: RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE

by

So I’d seen this on Instant Streaming for ages and wasn’t sure what to think of it. Then a few months ago, it was recommended to me. And as it’s the Christmas season now, I figured… why not? In the snowy grounds of Finland, 24 days before Christmas, an American excavation crew begins digging up something in the Korvatunturi mountains. Skip ahead to Christmas Eve, and group of farmers who seem to thrive on selling reindeer meat find their whole herd(?) slaughtered and ruined. Feeling responsible due to cutting open a piece of the fence and thinking he let wolves in, young Pietari (Onni Tommila) begins noticing human-like footprints in the oddest of places. He begins looking up Santa myths and how the jolly man originated. And as it turned out, he was more of a demon creature buried and hidden deep within the icy mountain. And the excavation crew might have just let him free.

No matter how much it sounds like one, this isn’t a horror movie. Though that brings me to one of my biggest issues with the film–I’m not sure what genre it’s supposed to be. The IMDb page starts off with action. Well… there’s some action in the climax, but that certainly doesn’t make the whole film an action movie. Then it states comedy. I suppose I could see the idea being comedic in an ironic sort of way… if the idea of an evil Santa hadn’t been done a hundred times before. Then it says fantasy. Well, yeah… there are definitely fantastical elements, but the film is pretty much grounded in reality. It has the tone like it’s building up to be a horror or slasher film, but it never really gets to that point. It’s not really a kids’ horror/comedy a la Gremlins, either, though that might be the closest I can figure out that it’s going for.

But what the film does have is some really good ideas. It really tries to be rich in mythology (though it doesn’t really tell us much). It kind of hints at what’s going on. And I will say, there is a fantastic twist later in the film, right before the third act. I really liked how the story and mythology connected there and what happened at that point. But, unfortunately, the film never really does much with its ideas. I have the perfect analogy here for how the third act goes, but it’s a bit spoilery, so be warned:

SPOILERS

Imagine if, in Aliens, the Company actually manages to catch a Xenomorph without much trouble. And the guys go to sell it to the highest bidder. But in the process, they discover the Xenomorph Queen, who is in a kind of stasis, and a bunch of other Xenomorphs protecting both the Queen and the people they’ve kidnapped for food (or whatever). So Newt takes over operations and comes up with the idea that they have to get the kidnapped people away and use them as bait to get the Xenomorphs to follow them so they can successfully and easily blow up the Queen. And once the Queen is dead, the Xenomorphs are harmless and can now be trained and sold by the Company. That’s pretty much what happens in this film.

END SPOILERS

It also doesn’t help that I thought the little boy was pretty annoying. I just couldn’t get behind his character. I know they were going for the “adults aren’t listening to the kid that knows what’s going on, so the kid is the hero” thing. But to me, it didn’t really work in this case. The kid was just kind of aggravating–and yes, he did figure out stuff and acted a hero at the end, he just came off as kind of self-important about the whole thing. And every time he ignored his dad and did stuff anyway (for stuff that wasn’t even overtly important, too), I was like “Dammit, kid, listen to your dad for once!” I liked the dad character much more than the kid–he had so much more at stake, both physically and emotionally. He was the real hero and main character to me, not the kid.

But in the end, it’s actually not that bad of a movie. Despite all my complaints, I did enjoy it for the most part. It’s not great, but it does have some great ideas. I just wish it would have done a little more with those ideas. And I wish it would have made up its mind on what genre it wanted to be and put more of that genre into it. But it was still a well-made film and looked really good on a technical level. If you’re curious about it, check it out. You might actually like it more than I did. I can see that happening. Like I said, it’s decent. I just wanted it to match its potential.

♥♥♥

2 Comments

  • Oh, Nick! What an opportune time to come to a disagreement! Well, I just reviewed this movie on my own blog, and my opinion was far higher. Why?

    Well, for one thing, you have to accept the limitations of the picture. It was filmed for less than $2M, which is pretty god-damn cheap these days. For another, it kept a certain thematic purpose, even if it screws around with the nature of Santa Claus and Christmas.

    Some movies, you just have to accept; others invite you to critique and analyze, and the individual viewer is the best judge of the result. In Rare Exports, we have a great example of a small-time pic that tells a very narrow holiday horror tale which is also wrapped up in enough extra material to make it seem like the Finnish version of The Lost Boys.

    It’s that spirit that I took with me as I watched Rare Exports, and I think it will play nicely to audiences expecting little-to-nothing. It didn’t have the best hand of cards, nor play them as beautifully as other might have, but it did well enough to deserve some respect.

    The first viewing did well by me, and I think other audience-members might agree…

    • lol… not sure what you took from my review, but it’s an overall positive response.

      I said it has really good ideas and a fantastic twist. The budget has nothing to do with any of the negatives I found in it, either. My main issues were that it felt tonally off, which is a directoral (and possibly script) issue, and the little boy annoyed the crap out of me. I actually thought the father was a MUCH better main character with deeper emotions and who is more easily able to connect with.

      So, yeah… absolutely nothing to do with the budget. I watch amazing super-low budget films all the time. It also had nothing to do with screwing around with the mythology, which is an aspect I loved about it.

      And I will disagree that this is horror.

      So, yeah… not exactly sure what you took from my review, but I gave it a decent and “check it out” score. 😛

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