Going into Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, you shouldn’t expect a typical killer-Santa movie. In fact, this Finnish production is not exactly a horror film, but more a spikily eccentric dark fantasy—one brought off with engaging imagination and impeccable craftsmanship.

Foremost among the movie’s achievements is the gorgeous cinematography by Mika Orasmaa, a deserving prize-winner (as was the film itself) at Spain’s Sitges festival. I have no idea whether Rare Exports had a sizable budget by European production standards, but it sure looks that way thanks to the eye-filling, crystal-clear vistas of Norwegian mountain ranges and deep, rich nighttime imagery. Writer/director Jalmari Helander’s story begins a couple of days before Christmas atop one of those peaks, where an American excavation company has discovered something mysterious and unexpected entombed within the rocks and ice. Once they’ve unearthed it, strange things start happening around the small town at the mountain’s foot, like the evisceration of the area reindeer—one of the first signs that Helander will not be holding traditional Yuletide signifiers sacred… read more >

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