Days before Christmas, a child Pietari (played by Onni Tommila), the son of a reindeer herder Rauno (played by Jorma Tommila), stumbles across a supposed archeological excavation located on a mountain near his remote rural home. Strange things begin to occur: large herds of reindeer are found dead and children start disappearing across the town. The reindeer herders begin an investigation and unravels the shocking, ugly truth about Santa Claus.
It’s an original spin on the Santa Claus myth. The idea that Santa Claus was a supernatural being who’s duty was to punish naughty children. It put me on the edge of my seat as it was so fresh to see everything we know about Santa Claus turned into a dark evil thing. I was wondering which direction the story was going to go. The story knows exactly how much information to give you at certain points to keep you engaged and guessing. Rare Exports manages to build up its mystery up with discipline and competently builds to a worthy action-packed finale.
They manage to create some genuine dark creepy moments as well. There’s a great scene where a captured Santa Claus figure sits naked and totally unresponsive in a room. The adult reindeer herders scratch their heads over what to do with him. As a child (who has done something “naughty”) enters and the Santa figure springs to life, slowly setting his eyes locked onto the child, ready to pounce on him. The audience is ahead of the characters on what’s going on, but only so slightly. We become afraid for what will happen to these children if the parents cannot protect them from dark forces. It does touch to some cautionary tale-like themes about the safety of children (though it’s too scary for kids under 12).
The thing I loved most was how they crafted the Santa Claus conspiracy, it titters between a fictionalized conspiracy, myth and reality that makes you almost think,”Hey, this could happen.” And that balance alone makes it a fresh viewing experience.
Funny enough, I did see this during Christmas and I do recommend it as a Christmas movie if you ever get sick of watching Love Actually or any of the Die Hard movies over and over again. But in all seriousness, I wouldn’t wait till next December.