So, we’ve come to the end of the road. It was a fun and challenging journey, but I think doing something like this again next year is in the cards. I’ve had a lot of fun with these Christmas crime movies and that brings us to a Finnish story about robbing Santa’s grave and all the madness that ensues, Rare Exports.
Directed by Jalmari Helander
Written by Jalmari Helander & Juuso Helander, Petri Jokiranta, and Sami Parkkinen
Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, and Peeter Jakobi
An ambitious archeological excavation crew finds an ancient tomb at the bottom of a mountain and you’ll never guess who it belongs to…Santa Claus. Except, this isn’t the jolly ole Saint Nick who comes down the chimney, leaves presents, and eats cookies. This is the ancient legend of Santa. When the tomb is disturbed, his elves don’t take kindly to it and the villagers at the base of the mountain must deal with the consequences.
The Helander brothers made a very intriguing hybrid Xmas film that’s part horror, part comedy, but also has this rough entrepreneurial spirit too. The most impressive thing is the defining lines aren’t rigid. The movie passes fluidly between styles and often navigates more than one at a time seamlessly. Even with an off the wall premise, it’s pretty grounded and the elements that should be laughable are actually the creepiest, scariest parts of the film. Plus, there’s a distinct theme of father-son relationships that permeates the whole film. It’s a clever approach to Yuletide mythology unlike anything I had seen.
I won’t pretend to have known anyone involved in this movie but there are some good performances at the heart of it. The lead primarily belongs to Onni Tommila as the young boy, Pietari, who has studied Santa mythology and is the first to suspect the worst when the excavation begins atop the neighboring mountain. In a cool tribute to that father-son theme, Jorma Tommila gets to play the on-screen father to his real-life son in the role of Rauno, the voice of the townspeople who are primarily affected by the excavation. The other performances are solid, including Peeter Jakobi’s terrifying portrayal, but it’s theirs that informs the message of the story.
Of all the movies I put on this list over the past three weeks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more original Xmas movie idea than Rare Exports, so that’s a good place to leave things. You can stream it on Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, Crackle, and Vudu or rent it through video-on-demand services.
Don’t mess with Santa and Happy Holidays!