Description from Netflix:
In the frozen beauty of Finland, local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus. A single dad and his son are caught up in the chaos as scientists dig for artifacts. What they find endangers the entire village.
Things I liked:
1. Basing the movie around a version of Santa Claus (Joulupukki) that I haven’t seen depicted in another film. I love seeing how legends and folklore are portrayed in different cultures. Though I doubt this portrayal is entirely accurate, it gives a window into how Santa is (or has been) portrayed in that area of the world. If nothing else, it gives the viewer a new way to look at Santa Claus. It also puts Santa into a horror movie without making him into a bloodthirsty killer, as he is in Santa’s Slay and Saint Nick.
2. The setting. It is set in a small village in Norway in December, which means it’s stark, snowy and beautiful. (I wanted to listen to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago the entire time I was watching this.) It allows the film to take place in a large area, while still giving a feeling of claustrophobic helplessness to the characters involved. It’s obvious that no one is coming to help them.
3. The subtle sense of comedy. It’s a grim movie. The specter of loss and death hangs over the entire film. There are quite a few heartbreaking scenes (which are all terrific), but there were a handful of scenes that were hysterical, if a bit dark. Eating gingerbread cookies in front of a chained-up old man, a terrified old man in terrible make-up imploring armed-men to stop smoking and cursing, etc. There’s a great sense of humor throughout the entire film, but it’s not always obvious.
4. Juuso, the best friend of Pietari (our protagonist). He’s slightly older than Pietari, and he’s a total ass. I have no idea why Pietari is friends with him. He’s a bully. He’s extremely unlikable. He has a mullet and a feather earring. He rides around on a snowmobile, hurtling threats left and right. He’s like a pint-sized villain from an 80s movie. You could tell me that Juuso is Roy Stalin’s younger brother and I would absolutely believe you. This character kills me.
5. The dolls Santa leaves in place of children as he abducts them. They’re cobbled together from sticks, and they’re really creepy. It was a nice touch. That Santa Claus knows what he’s doing.
6. The ending. Though I may have issues with the logistics behind it all (something I’ll tackle in more detail in a future post), I thought it was terrific. Strange, a little off-putting, and extremely funny.
Things I didn’t like:
1. Old man penis. Entirely too much old man penis. I can understand why they were naked, but I don’t understand why I had to see it. It was like that scene in Juno, but older, and without the shorts.
2. The ending. I know I put this in my “liked” section as well, but it’s a little of both for me. I can’t get too deep into it without getting all spoilery, so I’ll save the specifics. Suffice it say that the ending makes absolutely no sense, and raises more questions than it answers. I still love it, but it always leaves me scratching my head.
I love this movie. It has become a must-watch Christmas movie in my house. It is not without its problems (the aforementioned questions with the ending and the overwhelming amount of old man dong), but those are minor issues when looking at the movie as a whole. It’s not a long movie (IMDB has it listed at 84 minutes), and it never seems to drag. If you’re looking for a movie about a Santa Claus who has horns and abducts children (and who isn’t?) – or looking for a non-slasher Christmas movie – I highly recommend this one.