Fantastic Fest 2010: Rare Exports
What if santa was real? But what if he wasn't the jolly old fat guy you thought he was but actually a wild creature hunted and trained by professionals to be shipped to malls worldwide?
Brothers Jalmari and Juuso Helander explored that question in two highly acclaimed short films that quickly became internet sensations and now they have created a feature length version of the story, working as a prequel to the two shorts.
Taking place in the dreary north of Finland the story revolves around a young boy, Pietari who lives alone with his reindeer herding father (real live father and son team Onni and Jorma Tommila). It's getting close to christmas and strange going ons have been taking place up a near by mountain where a international conglomerate claims to be drilling for core samples. When the drillers discover something buried and really big in the frozen mountain, something emerges from the hole and starts wrecking havoc on the local reindeer population. Thinking it's wolfs, disturbed by the drilling the herders create traps to capture the animals but instead of a four legged furry creature, the one they capture has two legs, long white beard and is completely naked...and feral.
Never before has a film that is sort of aimed at young adults featured so much full frontal male nudity. But don't let that discourage you from seeing this. This is a film that invokes the spirit of Joe Dante in his 80's prime, Richard Donner's The Goonies and Fred Dekker's The Monster Squad. A fantasy film that features kids in the main roles but isn't really aimed at them as an audience. This is dark stuff but doesn't tread over to the horror area fully, just dances around it gladly.
Director Jalmari has visual chops in spades, capturing the magnificent but cold and harsh environment of Northern Lapland with beautiful compositions and makes the film look massive.
The cast all do a good job with their roles and the film rests almost completely on Onni Tommila's shoulders and he carries it with gusto. Supporting cast is lively and the army of old naked men running through the snow is a sight to behold.
I'm fairly certain that the film will become a repeated viewing at many households during christmas, along with A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and Die Hard.