Based upon his two hilarious Rare Exports Inc. shorts, A Christmas Tale, Jalmari Helander’s first feature-length, takes us back to the initial discovery of the untrained Santa Claus in Finland. Uncovered and unthawed during a dig by the sinister Americans, he is far from the cuddly myth, rather the dangerous beast of Finnish folklore, with an appetite for children. When trapped by the local reindeer herders, his loyal group of elves — creepy little naked old men — are intent on releasing him from capture, and a battle of wits ensues.
Not quite as funny as you’d expect if you have seen the shorts, the film largely plays it straight. As such, the first act does drag somewhat, despite a slim run-time. However the humour is still there, simply darker, making it worthy of a watch — but it’s probably best you not do so with children around.
First published in movieScope 25
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is available on DVD and Blu-ray from 7 November