In an error of judgement worthy of Boris Johnson I got Ang the Soldier Solder boxed set for Christmas. Downton Abbey for those of us who like a bit of rough, starts off with a badly realised version of Northern Ireland during the troubles and an IRA funeral – you know they’re IRA because everyone has a mullet.
Even though it’s 1991, the UK still looks like the worst part of the 1980s: huge hair, huge shoulder pads, huge telephones. In fact, the only thing that isn’t big is the production values.
But the scariest part of all isn’t even Ang’s incomprehensible desire for Robson and Jerome – the bastards who kept Unchained Melody in the charts, long after we’d gotten over Ghost.
No, it’s a very young Cersei Lannister playing a squaddie’s wife:
Like salmon returning to the place of their birth once spawning season is upon them, every Christmas the Irish diaspora returns home to their Mammies to celebrate in a way only the they can: Lighting the fire in the good room, leaving a Guinness out for Santy, and getting the Christmas clothes out for Midnight Mass.
On paper, it sounds like a complete farce. A Finnish comedy-horror about miners unearthing the real Father Christmas, who isn’t as jolly as the Coca-Cola corporation would have us believe. Instead of sneaking into people’s homes and exchange presents for gingerbread, Santa delivers spanked bottoms and boiled children. It’s then up to a bunch of reindeer herders and the only nice (if rather odd-looking) child to save the day and rescue the naughty kids.
It might just be the foreign language making it feel less of a spoof, but the movie itself has turned out to be one of the best Christmas films in years. A great mixture of creeping suspense, some genuinely scary moments, and a great heart that Disney hasn’t had since the Fifties.
I’d be interested to hear what a Finnish person thought of it; the audience at the Cambridge Picturehouse seemed to be in tears of laughter at random scenes, so much so that I was seconds away from standing up and brandishing my laminated copy of Wittertainment’s Code of Conduct. Either they were high or Finnish, in which case I’m missing out on some subtleties of their culture.
Don’t let the threat of sniggering Scandewigians put you off, however. Go and see this movie before Santa puts you on the naughty list.
You definitely don’t want to be on the naughty list.