There are plenty of holiday movies, but none of them are Rare Exports. At just 84 minutes long, the 2010 Finnish movie is almost like a very long episode of television, and it moves just as quickly. A little boy and his friend find some Americans atop a nearby mountain; one of them is speechifying about something buried there, something old and legendary. Maybe, Pietari (Onni Tommila) thinks, it’s Santa Claus. His friend Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää), a little older and worldlier, thinks this is ridiculous. But Pietari, like a little Finnish Willow Rosenberg from Buffy, hits the books, discovering that the “Coca-Cola Santa” is a fraud. The real Santa is something much, much darker, the punishment for bad behavior notably nastier than a lump of coal.
Director Jalmari Helander melds the Krampus myth perfectly onto that moment of childhood when belief is all the stronger for being challenged by skepticism. His clever little movie makes use of everything about its self-sufficient Finnish (and all-male) characters: the butchery and baking skills of Pietari’s father (Jorma Tommila); the terrible fallout of a dead herd of reindeer; the Santa suit Mr. Piiparinen (Rauno Juvonen) wears while visiting the neighborhood kids. Creepy, funny, ridiculous and jubilant, Rare Exports is required viewing in my house once the holiday season hits — but you should take the opportunity to see it at the Bijou Metro downtown this weekend. It’s even better on the big screen, creepy naked elves and all.
Rare Exports screens Dec. 20-26 at the Bijou Metro.