Monday, November 23

Some quick thoughts on Let The Right One In (2008)

viewed with the correct English subtitles / spoilers

Judging by the trailer, Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) was a low priority on my radar even with the deluge of global acclaim. Frankly, I'm leery of most modern universally praised foreign films. Once getting around to them, I usually find them either fluffed-up pretentiousness or loaded down with almost purposeful ambiguity that's so far above my head that I doubt even the filmmakers knew just what they themselves were trying to convey. Big splashes of bold imagery and themes that ultimately don't test well with time as their once impressive sheen wears hollow.

Though once in a while there's a Spoorloos, Audition, Ringu, or El espinazo del diablo. Features far outside the Tinseltown gristmill that effortlessly bring fresh perspectives without feeling like desperation-soaked calling cards for Hollywood kingmakers to "hopefully" notice abroad.

Let The Right One In much to my relief feels like it's destined to slip into this latter group. Director Tomas Alfredson, author/writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, and truly "beyond their years" performances from newcomers Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson construct a "realistically whimsical" fanged yarn that never betrays the horror genre for the sake of mainstream popularity while making formalities out of what other films find essential to explain.

Reading other assessments now, that last plot bit seems to stick in the crawl of naysayers. The film doesn't delve into gaps concerning the police's involvement in the murders (no easy DNA testing in 1982 regardless), the portrayal of Oskar's school life, and even the roles of Oskar's separated parents. And yes, I can see the basis of these complaints since it is strange there aren't detectives snooping about, no severe punishment from school policy over Oskar's stick confrontation with Conny, or how Oskar's mother is as distant as a stranger to her son.

Though as stated, the film is akin to a fairy tale and doesn't necessarily need to conform to common expectations. That and what Oskar and Eli give us is far more valuable than being spoon-fed every detail of laborious, boring realism. Their fledgling relationship is innocent yet has an underlying danger that first draws the disillusioned Oskar in. Eli falls as well after some internal deliberation and it's interesting to ponder if this is the first time she's ever felt a connection to a human as one herself and as what she's been for centuries other than a food source or blood-collecting servant. It also must be applauded that the presentation of their bond is never sexualised aside from natural curiosity that leads to the revelation of Eli's gender.

On the theory of Oskar being a replacement for Håkan's murderous duties for Eli, this notion never once entered my mind while watching. The question is left open, but if true, this would beguile and cheapen the audience's connection with its young central characters. Oskar's love is clear in his hug in the aftermath of not properly letting Eli in, Eli's cold caress of the hand of a sleeping Oskar, and sealed in their bloody kiss after all is revealed. To the uninitiated that might sound corny and sappy, but it's not.

A true vampiric chiller for the new century that's wonderfully acted, paced, and photographed. I can't say this is the "best vampire movie, ever" but Let the Right One In deserves to stand proud in the pantheon of vampire screen greats. Speaking on the impeding inevitably Americanized "Let Me In" remake, don't worry those who throw venom this Swede's way, I'm sure the neutered redo will fix this film's lingering mysteries right quick and probably throw in some sculpted teen adonis investigating the happenings to appeal to hollow-headed Stephenie Meyer fanatics. Let the Right One In is the mature, revitalized direction bloodsuckers need to follow instead of burning alive in a sparkling purgatory of quaffed emo hair and disposable Hot Topic merchandise.


Drunketh said...

I always found it strange how I've never read a single review of this film without hearing a twilight bash somewhere. ;) It's weird. I like both the films equal-like... for Very different reasons.

And while staying Trew is important yeah I'm not exactly glad this film doesn't have a little more merchandise. I wouldn't mind a jacket or shirt or something, though, if mass produced I'd be Like Them. Or they'd be Like Me rather! Which is probably worse. As for twilight merch, I think most of it is well done(if cheap) but wish some more of it would appeal to guys(yeah, I know...). Uhhh...

I was lucky enough(meaning I drove two hours in the dark-ass rain-filled highway just to see this on the big screen since I figured I'd never get the chance. Wouldn't you know, another chance hasn't arrisen(?) yet. Huh.

But I love this movie. Even though that kid's got snot out his nose damn near every frame. Oh! And surprise crotch shot! Wooohzaaa. Haha.

the jaded viewer said...

"The question is left open, but if true, this would beguile and cheapen the audience's connection with its young central characters."

Totally true. I didn't think of this as well. But Let Me in will definitely go this route of making Oskar be the "replacement" of Hakan.

Because Hollywood doesn't no how to be subtle.

E.S. Coakley said...

Try as I might, it's really difficult for me to think of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN as a horror film and to that end, I was a bit disappointed when I watched it. It's a great drama and there are certainly some cool, horrific images, but this is definitely a story about a relationship more than anything else.

Fear Finder said...

Oskar is not simply a new love for Eli, nor just the replacement of Hakan...he is both. You can easily see the connection between Eli and Hakan in many endearing scenes...but of course, he got older, and ultimately the love fell apart...Hakan knew it and killed himself.

Oskar will indeed be her love for quite some time, but not without also being her keeper and caretaker.

Anthony1138 said...

Maybe I'm too old to get into Twilight, or maybe it's just too much teenage melodramatic angst and sexuality wrapped up into guise of a "vampire" movie that even a younger me wouldn't have liked it. I mean, I did watch Dawson's Creek and Buffy for a while, so one could equate Twilight as being a perfect match. But whether it's good or bad, it's become a victim of it's own popularity and has spawned so many imitators, merchandising and tabloid publicity for me to even care.

I'm just glad that there are still original vampire films like Let the Right One in being made. And to call it a "vampire" film is unfair in a way. It is really just a beautiful film/story that happens to involve a vampire. And speaking of vampire films, I'm also anxiously waiting to see Park Chan-wook's Thirst.

Drunketh said...

Strange thang about that Tony, I never watched Buffy or Dawsons. And I mean, never a full episode of each. I had another friend back then who was also a serious hardcore horror fanatic like I, and while neither of us would watch Buffy, he did actually enjoy Dawson for whatever reason. Hell, I never gave it a chance, so I can't really comment on what I missed, but oh well. Kevin W probably did a good job, but I think I was probably turned off by JVDB.

The reason I got into twilight is because it's "too much teenage melodramatic angst and sexuality wrapped up into guise of a 'vampire' movie"... that shit's hot. And hell, I still feel young dumb and full of jizz. But yeah, it's all definately a different genre in one way or another. I don't care much anymore. I know what's good, I know what I like, and while sometimes those things don't agree, meh, I'm too old for this shit.


Jay Clarke said...

This was defintely my fave horror film of 2008. It's a shame Magnet still hasn't released a Blu-ray version w/ the original theatrical subtitles. What a sham!

CRwM said...

I'm going to have to disagree with the assessment of Oskar-as-Renfield. Far from cheapening the flick, it's what gives it its tragic gloss. Like the Countess in Dracula's Daughter, Eli longs for connection but understands that human contacts will always be fleeting. She also knows that any long-term connection with her existence is basically going to require Oskar be party to human slaughter. If she loves him so much, how could she stomach that alternative?

Nor is it really accurate, I think, to say that Oskar fails to let Eli in correctly. She could have explained the situation; but, in a classic exploitative dynamic, she chooses to hurt herself and force Oskar's hand. Notably, this also forces Oskar to forgo the one "power" he held over the much more powerful Eli.

It's ironic that comparisons to Twilight have been made because without this angle on the story, all you've got is another moody love-between-a-vamp-and-a-human-that-conquers-all tale. I disagree with the jaded viewer opine that Hollywood will remake the film with the idea that Oskar becomes Eli's Renfield - that's the more subtle route. I suspect that, as always, in Tinsel Town, true love will prevail. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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