Rare Exports 2


Director: Jalmari Helander

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

This strange short fantasy film from Helsinki is distributed in two short parts. First is Rare Imports, Inc. (2003) showing hunters heading for the wilderness of Lapland. They are a tracker (Tazu Ovaska), a marker (Tommi Korpela), & a sniper (Tazu Ovaska).

Rare Exports IncTheir pick-up truck driving down the highway to the snow-dusted temperate woodlands doesn't look all that Laplandish, & they might've improved the impact of the piece by filming it above a snowline.

"They spread fear among every living creature because of their skill" says the more annoying than amusing narrator (Jonathan Hutchings), as the slightly mystical epic adventure movie soundtrack swells, & three unutterably butch dorks saunter into the well-tamed woodland.

It's held back from the viewer what they're hunting. When the joke's revealed, it ain't much. The marksman fires a sleep dart at a naked dirty old man (Otso Tarkela). He's a three hundred year old specimen of a rare Father Christmas. It's hard to track the fat guy who is strong enough to tear apart a bear with his hands. He has to be darted several more times before he falls.

Since 1793, specially skilled hunters like these have been capturing Father Christmases, cleaning them up, teaching them to speak & have good manners, training them not to bite the heads off children that are set in their laps, It's a brutal time-consuming job but the final products are well-behaved Santa Clauses shipped to dozens of countries each Christmas.

Rare Exports 2In the immediate sequel Rare Exports Part II: Safety Instructions (2005) we follow one of the shipping crates, an appropriately clad Santa inside, from Finland.

The narrator states that the mission is to guarantee the safe delivery of the product to its destination, & notes that on the previous Christmas season there was a failure. "The shipment never reached its destination. Luckily, however, you called in the professionals."

Rather spoofing Jurassic Park, incompetence got many people reduced to bloody corpses, & the Santa is on the loose. Framed as a series of rules for survival in the presence of a raging Father Christmas, comic horror & gore procedes as this Father Christmas is revealed to be something like a demonic homeless drunk inspired to horrific strength by booze & cigarettes.

"If you have broken these rules, it will be impossible to gain control of a Father Christmas -- ever again. What you are about to see now may traumatize you for life. But the story must be told."

A child follows a trail of blood to the hide-out on a boat of Father Christmas. Having tasted human blood, & no longer able to tell who is naughty & who is nice, the cunning beast can only be executed for the safety of humanity & trusting children.

Funnier & a lot more grotesque than the first part, it ends with a wonderfully overblown bit of faux sentimentality at the ancient graveyard of former Santas.

The dvd includes a "making of" documentary & other extras. It has well done widescreen cinematography with reasonably good performances & slick soundtrack reminiscent of Danny Elfman's ironically syrupy music for Edward Sissorshands (1990).

At the release of the sequel, these had numerous film festival exhibitions around the world, & was nominated for, though rightly did not win, the Best European Short Fantasy Film Melies d'Or. It did get the Best Short Film Jury & Audience awards at the San Sebastian Horror Film Festival.

The point is obviously to be funny. On that score it pretty much falls on its face, though it has a certain obnoxious power.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]