"He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake". Believe me this much loved Christmas song will never again have the same meaning after you’ve gone to see this unexpectedly disturbing film. Don’t be fooled by the appealing festive title. 'A Christmas Tale', yes it is but a heart-warming 'Home Alone' type classic, it most definitely is not. Think of an extreme version of 'The Grinch' with a few 'Saw' type scenes thrown in to the mix.

If you’re looking to get into the Christmas cheer then stay as far away as possible from this mind-boggling Finnish flick, then again if you’re out to avoid any 'Bad Santa' or 'The Holidays' type movies this Christmas time, this might be right up your alley.

Set in the chilly landscape of Finland, 10-year-old Pietari (Tommila) isn’t like any other child on Christmas Eve. After an excavation company decides to unearth the real Santa from the Korvatunturi Mountains, Pietari seems to be the only one who is aware of the destruction that will ensue. Pietari has found out the truth about Santa. Not only is Santa Clause the opposite of the fat, jolly, white bearded man that we are all used to seeing on the TV but the real Santa is an evil menace, out to eat all the boys who have been mischievous over the past year.

Now, a usually ignored Pietari must convince his father that Santa and his elves will be roaming the mountains on Christmas Eve in search of naughty children. Will Pietari escape from Santa before it’s too late?
While the idea for the film is unique and original, it is also pretty disturbing and worrying at the same time. From a plethora of naked old men frolicking through the Finnish fields to a number of pretty unbelievable twists towards the end, it’s definitely not a film for the kids. It is pretty obvious that Helander had a vision to create something that would go against the stereotypes and reveal the darker side of the concept of Santa Clause in our society. Yet somehow it just doesn’t work. He has left far too many holes in the already extremely overambitious plot.

Definitely not one you’d see on the Kids’ Club list at the cinema. In fact maybe if we just don’t talk about it, it will go away. It’s not a good thing when you come out of the cinema thoroughly terrified of Santa.
I would have been happier with a 'Bad Santa 2'.

Sarah Carty