James Reviews Jalmari Helander’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale [Blu-ray Review]

It’s been barely over a year since I reviewed Rare Exports for the site and in that time I have praised the film to everyone I’ve met. Plenty of my friends have applauded the film and thanked me for the suggestion to check it out. Being over a year since I’ve viewed the film, I feared a bit that the film might have lost a bit of its edge since then. Perhaps it was a ‘right place, right time’ type of movie and I’d only see the flaws 13 months later. Oscilloscope has released the film on DVD and Blu-ray, which is sitting right on my Blu-ray player right now.

As I said in last year’s review (seen here) and if you listen to the second part of our Best of 2010 podcast, you can tell I pretty much dug the film. In fact, it was my number 4 film of the year and for good reason. It took the Christmas/Santa Claus myth and threw it out and brought it into a much more darkly comic world. Like my favorite Christmas films, there’s always a darkness about them, where one minute you’re horrified and the next you’re doubled over, laughing at something horrible that just was presented on screen. When the Blu-ray came in the mail, and as I said above, the fear was there. Would the film still trigger elation? Or was the Christmas spirit running through me at an all time high last year?

Watching the film with a group of friends was the best way to re-watch this film during this past holiday season. There’s something about sandwiching this film in between Gremlins and Die Hard had a great affect with about 12 people in a small room laughing along and shocked at some of the imagery, especially the great artwork in the books Pietari is reading throughout the movie, researching who Santa Claus truly is. Also when we see a naked man who loves the taste of gingerbread and the smell of children, it brings a slight chill down your spine in the best of ways. Considering I’ve reviewed this film earlier and still enjoyed it is a testament to Jalmari Helander’s writing and directing of this, a horror holiday film, usually of which don’t work out as well as most people hope.

It might seem too late to pick up this release from Oscilloscope, considering it’s 3 weeks after Christmas but I say ‘Bah humbug!’ to whoever utters those words. Adam Yauch (or Nathaniel Hornblower as he likes to be credited) and company have been chugging along with some fantastic releases, and this is just another one example as to why they are a stellar company and giving Criterion a run for most interesting releases. With this film they really went the full nine, giving us the two short films, Rare Exports Inc. (2003) and Rare Exports – The Official Safety Instructions (2005), that were the basis of the feature film. We also get a making of the film documentary, a look at the concept art called Blood In the Snow, a comparison between the animatics and computer effects, behind the scenes production still and the original trailer from Finland. And as a special treat exclusive to the Blu-ray release, they also give a second disc housing Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the 1964 so bad it’s good film which is still one of the most popular Mystery Science Theater 3000 features of all time.

Looking at the holidays the older I get, I see the evil that can lurk behind corners and in the shadows. To see a film where the only one who is seeing that something is up is a young child, is a breath of fresh air; considering the fact that most of the time kids in films tend to be useless, yet still survive because filmmakers are afraid to do something really horrible to them. In this film, kids are the targets of Santa Claus, who needs them to feed and his minions (or elves) are scary looking, to say the least and without ruining it for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet. This film is definitely a fun ride and now will be a holiday film that circles my Blu-ray player every holiday season.

Order the Blu-ray from Amazon.com