Rare Exports; A Christmas Tale

Set in Lapland in the run-up to Christmas, a small settlement of reindeer herders are bemused by the comings-and-goings at a nearby mine. It appears that the mountain is not in fact a mountain, but a man-made burial chamber built to restrain something old, huge and resolutely evil. And the drilling has released something quite terrifying into the surrounding forests. Only young Onni recognizes the signs, though will the adults actually listen to such odd Christmas tales?

Developed from two earlier short films, Rare Exports is sort of like a successful cross between The Thing and Let The Right One In. Snow and poverty, carelessly dismissive adults and cruel kids, and a lurking, invisible horror that’s emerging from the edges of the ice. The best scene of all is when the herders capture what they think is a mining official they might ransom, and he eyes them back with a pure, cold hatred that’s actually quite brilliantly unnerving. His feral response to the presence of children is one of the most chilling horror moments I’ve seen.

So on the whole, Rare Exports is a great little film, a bit of humor, a few scary jumpy moments, some real atmospheric stuff. It filmed, not in Finland, but on location in Norway, on the FilmCamp lot that’s essentially a purpose-built set for Arctic filmmaking on the site of a former military base. Their impressive electronic brochure is downloadable here.

OK, so that was the good stuff. But I do have a bone to pick. The last 5 minutes are such a momentous disappointment, such a departure from the steady chiller of the rest of the movie, I’d almost advise you to set your watch, and turn off before you have to see it.