Apr 2, 2009

Låt den rätte komma in

There are some films that come into your life like a cool summer breeze. They are warm and wonderful and they make you feel alive ever so briefly. And then they are gone. And the memory of it follows soon after.

Then there are films that haunt you like a ghostly winter chill. Always tugging at the dark recesses of your soul. Something about them makes you want to stop and think about what it all meant, or read about it, or shut it out while you cower under the blankets in the middle of the night. Praying it will all go away.

Let the Right One In is a prime example of the latter.

On the surface it can be called a "coming of age" film or a "romance" or a "vampire" film, but it manages to transcend all of those genres. It truly is one of the more unique films I have seen in quite a long time.

The basic premise revolves around the budding friendship between a 12 year-old classic underdog and bully-bait named Oskar and his new neighbor. A young girl his own age named Eli. She is, to put it mildly, different. There is an instant and sad attraction between the two. He spends much of his time alone, pretending to battle his bully demons with a knife. She only comes out at night, dispensing wisdom far beyond her years on how he should deal with his problems. A bond is formed as only 12 year-olds can form them.

But, as she states more than once, Eli isn't a girl. She is a vampire. Living with her handler (who acts as a sort of father figure) in an apartment building like an exchange student with an aversion to sunlight. The dreariness of the situation is a living, breathing thing to the viewer. Especially as the film is set in the cold and dark winter of Scandinavia. Everything about the film is bleak. The weather, Oskar's school, the apartment complex, his torment at the hands of the sadistic bullies, poor Eli's existence...everything. Ingmar Bergman would have been proud of the overall aesthetic of this film. It was that bleak.

The filmmaker* also took some liberties with the mythos surrounding vampires. One that I found fascinating was his take on the vampire invitation. Believe me when I say that you have never seen something like this in a vampire film before. And since it involves an innocent looking young girl it makes it even creepier. Another shock was a scene that might normally raise a chuckle in a coming of age film. Oskar gets a glimpse of young Eli changing her clothes and what might have been a titillating moment for an inquisitive young boy on his way to manhood instead becomes a dark glimpse of Eli's deeper secret. Something truly too awful to contemplate.

Even if you don't enjoy a good vampire flick I would still recommend this one to just about anyone. Watch it in the original Swedish with English subtitles. The main characters aren't very chatty so it shouldn't be too much of an issue for those of you who hate subtitles. It's bleak, it's dark, it's triumphant (in a way), it's thought provoking. And it succeeds in haunting you. Which is exactly what I look for in a film. Especially a vampire film.

*I don't know if this was his choice or if it came from the author of the book. From reading the message boards there are some significant differences between the two although most reviewers seem to enjoy both.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. All the vampire kids are doing it.


Faiqa said...

Wow. That does look good.

Now, whoever thinks that Earl is a big cop out for NOT posting this on Moviegrenade raise your hand.

::Raises hand::

Verdant Earl said...

Faiqa - ok, even though I mentioned this to you in the email but you may have forgotten, MovieGrenade is for reviews of bad movies. And I obviously thought this one was a great movie. See? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Barlinnie said...

I must admit that your commentary has whetted my appetite for this fil-um.

2nd cars again my friend... 2nd hand cars.

LadyFi said...

I can recommend the book - chilling and brilliant! After reading it, I have concluded that I would be too scared to watch the film...

Avitable said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I may have to check that out.

Michelle said...

Wow I just started reading this book just YESTERDAY and today you post about the film, which by the way is on my netflix queue!!

Now I want to see it even more but I am wondering if I should finish the book first? Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

A friend and I rocked up to the cinema after work to see this flick. We had 2 hrs to kill before the session started so thought we'd buy the tix and eat first. The session had sold out the day before! Majorly pissed. All the sessions seem to sell like hotcakes but there are so few sessions. I don't get it. Your review makes me think I should book - even if it's a week in advance.

Slyde said...

i keep hearing good things about this one... maybe i can watch it this weekend..

Verdant Earl said...

Jimmy - it's a good 'un.

LadyFi - Heya! And it's on my "must read" list.

Avitable - no problemo.

Michelle - why stop now? Keep reading!

AK - not available on DVD over there yet? Been out for a few weeks here.

Slyde - I think you will love it.

Paticus said...

Once again, to the Netflix queue I go!!

Jennifer and Sandi said...

I am forever shattered over seeing the "Original" Last House On The Left. My brother brought me to the drive-in theatre to see it (uh-o my age is showing). That flick scared the shit out of me. Now there is a re-make of it. I can assure you, I will not be attending the New Last House On The Left!

Enjoy your Creeps!!

Happy Friday Eve!!
- Jennifer

Jennifer and Sandi said...

YOU ROCK!!! OF COURSE!!!! Use the Edit HTML box. IT WORKED!!!!

Thank you so much! Go check out the coolest video I found yesterday!

A Succesful You Tube Video posted on our blog!

Thanks again B.E.E.

- Jennifer

Heff said...

I'm sorry. The vampire market is currently over-saturated.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Earl-that was possibly one of the best movie review posts I have read.
Kudos to you-it was so well written and it drew me into the plot of this movie effortlessly. Your prose complimented the movie's content perfectly! I will most certainly look for this one, but will not recommend it to my overly saturated vampire marketed 14 yr old daughter. (ha! love you Heff)

And Faiqa, my hand is raised. (but don't tell Earl)

Verdant Earl said...

Paticus - isn't Netflix great?

Jenn - you are most welcome, and I will pop by to see it.

Heff - this ain't no Twilight crap. This is the real fucking deal.

Candy - blushing. ;)

Ookami Snow said...

I really want to see this film.

Bruce Johnson said...

Dispite my aversion to the horror film genre....I want to see this film....it sounds very intriquing. And since I love Bergman and don't mind subtiles, all the better.

Verdant Earl said...

Ookami - it's great.

Bruce - I think it might be a horror film that non-fans of the genre will enjoy. Let me know what you think of it.

pure evyl said...

From the pic it looks like she is a messy eater. Is there no manners in the movies anymore?

Verdant Earl said...

Evyl - that clip is from a great scene. Crazy!