In direct relation to Stiles' post (CLICK HERE TO READ) on our reliance on remaking horror from lands afar, Ive decided to start reviewing films that may or may not be new to you. Films that by hook or crook came my way and I fell for. From 'Fritt Vilt' to 'Låt den rätte komma in'. Films that inspire us and keep the faith in true horror. I hope you dig the reviews, guys. xxx
When an archaeological dig uncovers a long hidden secret beneath the Korvatunturi mountains, and children begin dissapearing, a young boy begins to suspect that Santa Claus may be real, and truly does know who's been naughty and who's been nice. And the real Santa doesn't look too kindly on those who are naughty...
More and more it seems we have to turn to foreign filmmakers to get our fix as genre fans. The west hits it out the park on occaon, but what seems to misng is that real spark of ingenuity. That truly independent spirit. Its found these days in the dark dramas from the East, or the Gallic blood drenched nightmares of the French. It seems we're falling behind for the most part when it comes to blazing new trails in horror, and that's a shame. But fuck, at least there are people out there pushing all the buttons our homegrown directors seem so afraid to push. We need works like RARE EXPORTS to remind us why we fell in love with the genre in the first place, and goddamn it, to give us hope! This time, its down to Finnish director, Jalmari Helander to show us how shits done right.
I was lucky enough to catch RARE EXPORTS on its very short run in my home city of Glasgow. The theatre was practically empty, yet everyone who was lucky enough to be 'in the know' about this film came out with smiles from ear to ear. Its most definitely a crowd pleaser.
EXPORTS is a short, sharp blast of old school horror, blended perfectly with the sort of 'kids in peril' films many of us grew up loving in the 80's. Its got a wholly original concept, a cast of characters as memorable as they are authentic, beautiful scenery and a villain that genuinely will send chills down your spine. Its also a bona fide seasonal treat, and I believe it will be looked at in retrospect as a clasc of the festive season.
Don't let the films rating deter you. Yes, its a mostly bloodless affair, but what it lacks in gore and mayhem it makes up for in atmosphere and dread. The tenon in this film is palpable, and yet the whole thing manages to have a breezy innocence about it that's irrestible to both horror fans AND Christmas movie fans. Will this film ever find its way into the hearts of the masses and be played on loop over the holidays? Most likely not. Its far too dark an adventure for that. But it WILL find its audience. A horror film this unique in both concept and execution is a very rare thing. And it should be celebrated.
Performances are pitch perfect. Our two main characters being a father and son, living a harsh existence in the Korvatunturi mountains of Finland. They're plight is one that will surely win you over. The son, fearing for his very life as the creeping realization comes upon him that Santa Claus may very well be real, and not at all like the coca-cola veron we're all so used to.
Onni Tommilla, as young Pietari, holds his own against the more experienced performers that surround him. He carries the film with ease, and his growth over the story is very well played out. From terrified victim, (check out the bear traps at the foot of the chimney),
to pint zed action hero all within a brisk 84 minute run time. And his father, played brilliantly by Jorma Tommilla, (relation?), has an equally satisfying story arc, which I wont divulge here. Suffice to say there is death, fear and dread here, but there's also hope and gentility. And yes, when all is said and done it IS a Christmas movie, and a damned good one at that.
The movies one downde for many will be the directors choice to keep a certain image from the audience, one which you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat waiting to see. For me this worked, just as it has in many savvy films before it. After all, there's nothing more terrifying than your own imagination, ESPECIALLY if your a seasoned horror fanatic.
RARE EXPORTS succeeds where so many lesser Christmas horrors fail. Its at once a genuinely scary experience and a heartwarming tale of hope and faith around the winter season. Don't miss it.
(Authors note: Be sure to check out the directors original shorts online.
I'd wait till after viewing the film itself so as to avoid spoilers. Just a heads up, folks)