Douglas asked me to write something about Christmas. So I’ll take a break from my normal writing about myself to…well…write about myself.
Here’s my favorite Christmas movie and why I think Arsenic Lullaby fans should love it too. There’s a Finnish movie called Rare Exports. Roger Ebert even gave it 4 ½ stars and basically described it as Christmas meets The Thing (the Kurt Russell Thing, not the Fantastic Four Thing).
I don’t know what it is about living in that part of the world, but when they do something, they go balls out. Legally, you can’t be in a Black Metal band unless you’ve burned down three churches and stabbed to death one band mate. They take Christmas movies just as seriously. This isn’t an umpteenth retelling of a Christmas Carol. This is something wholly and uniquely different.
A team of excavators are trying to exhume the body of Santa Claus in a small reindeer village in Finland. Also, there’s a local legend of a monster that terrorized the village years ago until it was left for dead beneath a frozen lake. A bunch of Clausian demon things escape and it’s up to a small kid, channeling the spirit of John Rambo to save the day. Here’s some sample dialogue between two characters who have a naked emaciated Santa thing tied up in a barn.
There’s something really weird about him. Don’t you think?
He’s a foreigner.
To me, that’s dialogue that can be lifted right from the pages of Arsenic Lullaby. The thing that makes Rare Exports great is the thing that makes Arsenic Lullaby great. They both create bizarre universes, but handle them as if they were totally normal. There’s a witch doctor living in the suburbs, there’s a has-been sentient donut, there’s an unemployed boogie man, there’s an army of demon Santas slaughtering a village. The humor never comes from anyone really saying, “Hey, isn’t this reality crazy?” No, the jokes come from the characters accepting that reality and dealing with it. There’s something so normal about the abnormality in both, that really makes me geek out. Neither ever goes for the easy joke. Neither is ever guilty of being too “on the nose”. Both works succeed in never doing what you’d expect.
So if you’re sitting around during the holidays, I’m pretty sure Rare Exports is streaming on Netflix. Sure, lots of posers (I was born in 1972, I still use the word “poser”) think they’re edgy because their favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard, Scrooged, or Gremlins. Give Rare Exports a shot. Like Arsenic Lullaby, it’s dark, hilarious, and a lot of fun.