We started December on the blog truly expecting we could make it through an entire month of Christmas cheer. I made it perhaps 20 minutes into our first cringingly upbeat film before promptly changing my mind, and I can report similar stats for Christa–and she even shares a significant number of letters in her name with the holiday!
If you can’t escape your true nature, embrace it. Is probably something a Batman villain has said, but it holds up! We’re delighted to celebrate Christmas the Blog Collab way with bloodshed, sinister happenings, and horrible American billionaires. Wait, aren’t we trying to escape reality?
After an American drilling operation disrupts the way of life in a small Finnish town, a young boy tries to prove the evil version of Santa is on the loose.
In a remote part of Finland, a mysterious American drilling operation has struck gold. Metaphorically, at least–what they’ve really found is a 65-foot-thick layer of sawdust. What’s so great about that, you ask? The sawdust seems to be evidence of a massive icebox for a sacred treasure, apparently with a time limit. Things kick into gear as the crew works to reveal the treasure before December 24th.
Spying on the worksite are youngsters Pietari and Juuso, who put two and two together rather quickly. Juuso is already rather cynical, but Pietari is quite concerned that Santa may be dead. Pietari takes a familiar course of action to anyone determined to win an argument: he researches the hell out of Santa. However, he doesn’t like the information he finds, learning that, according to many legends, Santa is less jolly and more bloodthirsty than he’s been lead to believe.
Meanwhile, Pietari’s rugged mountain man father, Rauno, is gearing up for a reindeer hunt. He makes a living butchering and selling reindeer meat, and Pietari avoids the shed where the gory work is done by all means necessary. Rauno is a tough but tender dad who makes Christmas a low-key event but is fiercely committed to keeping his son safe–especially as Pietari seems oblivious to the dangers of wolves and other unseen forces lurking in the woods.
After the reindeer hunt turns out to be a dud, Pietari blames himself. It seems something has escaped from the dig site and slaughtered all of the reindeer. The adults blame wolves, but Pietari worries he and Juuso unleashed something sinister when they cut a hole in the fence to sneak into the site.
Fired up and demanding answers, the group heads to the operation’s HQ, only to find the area abandoned. As it turns out, the dig has been abandoned as it’s horribly backfired–whatever mystery is buried in the ice has a heartbeat and malicious intentions.
Shortly after, Rauno’s business partner finds a naked old man dead in an illegal wolf pit the two dug. The two leave the old man lying in the butcher shed as they determine what to do with him. Before they’ve made a decision, the old man begins to come back to life.
Around the same time, the children of the small Finnish town sense they are being watched. Oddly specific things go missing: radiators, potato sacks (but not the potatoes), and the old hairdryer that once belonged to Pietari’s deceased mother. Finally, all of the children except for Pietari disappear.
When the old man wakes up properly, he’s a bit–make that extremely–aggressive. Suspecting he’s related to the drilling operation and its consequences, Rauno and his friends (including Juuso’s dad) interrogate the old man. Though they learn nothing, they realize he may be Santa Claus. Sensing an opportunity, they offer to sell him to the Americans because that would be something Americans would buy, honestly.
The, uh, “American” with a rather pronounced Finnish accent leading the whole operation is absolutely ecstatic. He’s all too keen to meet the real Santa for reasons I’m not super clear on.
When the two parties meet to make their trade, things don’t go as planned as the men realize their Santa isn’t the real thing. The real Santa is apparently much more sinister. Throw into the mix dozens of naked bearded men, and it’s likely to be an emotionally damaging evening, rather than the nice lumberjack convention this could’ve so easily been.
Will Pietari come up with a clever plan, saving the day while also managing to prove he can be a rugged mountain man when the situation calls for it?
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
I have to give this film credit for imagination; the title refers to the rare export of Santas from Finland, which the entire film leads up to (spoiler/not really a spoiler?). There are many twists and turns along the way, and the film doesn’t often go in the direction I’d expect. And the cinematography is stunning; all of those dramatic, snowy mountains.
However, I find this film falls just shy of its potential–in part because of how surprisingly…wholesome it is? True, this is the only Christmas film I can think of featuring full-frontal male nudity. And, like, a lot of full-frontal male nudity. But I was expecting horror, and we didn’t get a lot on this front. We didn’t even get to see the real Santa except as a chunk of ice with horns, and I would’ve at least liked a glimpse! The beginning of the film is quite creepy, but the last half or so is almost as sickly sweet as some of the Hallmark-style Christmas movies we’ve watched this month. The emphasis is on Pietari gaining confidence, saving the day, becoming a man, etc. And let’s talk about that, shall we?
There are some super uncomfortable messages about masculinity here. One–Pietari is maybe 10 or so? And yet there’s a lot of focus on him huntin’/shootin’/fishin’ to prove how manly he is. As a character, he was adorable and I never wanted him to grow up. Maybe just let a child be a child? And the men make a rather clumsy attempt to interrogate the old man, which just comes across as mean-spirited even if he is an evil Santa. I also can’t remember any women in this film at all, which is…problematic, to say the least. The idea of a rugged manly community feels like the ultimate ideal in this movie, rather than an unsustainable way of life destined to doom your chances of survival pretty damn fast.
I admit there are definitely parts of this film I’ve taken too seriously, as it’s very darkly funny. But my brain cannot get around the fact that the Finnish dude bros in this film are supposed to have successfully started a business built around selling people. It’s unclear to me if this is something to be frowned upon; the characters involved are all depicted in a pretty positive light. Even if you take this exclusively from the horror movie angle, you should not be selling an ancient evil for profit! It will come back! Period.