Monday, June 28, 2010

Let The Right One In (2009).



Beautiful and sweet. It almost feels a disservice calling it a horror film. Why should that be so? I feel like a traitor to my favourite genre, saying as much.

Yet it also shows what a great thing horror can be; that so much diversity can exist under the one name. The nastiness of Eden Lake and the innocence of this film can be bedfellows - or at least housemates.



Let The Right One In is still. Quiet. Slow. It's not that nothing happens, more a case of what does happen is calm, and measured. With simple storytelling and no histrionics, the film is riveting. The child actors are phenomenally good, giving subtle older-than-their-years performances in a film about growing up, love and survival.

Oskar is a lonely boy, regularly bullied at school. One night he meets Eli in a snowbound jungle gym. Wary of one another at first, their friendship grows over time until it blossoms tentatively into tender young love.





The only problem is that although Eli looks like a twelve year old girl, her innocent visage hides her true age, and darkness. She is a vampire.

Her "condition" is looked after initially by a helper in the form of an older gentleman. For the sake of appearances, he poses as her father. For the sake of Eli's survival, he commits murder.

In the book upon which the film is based, this man (by the name of Håkan) has paedophile tendencies, and that is why he becomes part of Eli's life; to be closer to her. This is downplayed in the adaptation; a decision I think was the right one. Not to say that his sinister intentions wouldn't have sat right, because they probably would have - sweet or not, Let The Right One In is cold and mean at times. For a sleeker narrative though, his story was expendable.

Håkan is nonetheless still portrayed as a mightily creepy fellow. Who, unable to deal with Eli finding a soulmate in Oskar (and possibly finally feeling the burden of his countless murders) disfigures himself with acid, then lets Eli drink from him.





It's a touching moment: this man who has given up years to serve her, to feed her, ultimately himself becomes a meal to her. His last act is to offer, and be taken.

Eli must then fend for herself. Oskar at first oblivious to her secret, then helplessly entwined and bewitched by it.

Moments of bloodshed in this movie come as a bit of a shock. Feeling as it does, a little highbrow (at least in relation to the normal cache of films a horror fan will watch) when this gets messy in its own restrained yet nasty way, it's genuinely startling.


Håkan's last breath.



The cinematography contributes to this too, as the carefully chosen background upon which the gore is smeared. The look of the film is cold, the colours muted; the red blood standing out against pale snow and skin. Like another movie I've reviewed, in fact.



If somehow the film doesn't appeal because of its plot, then see it just because it's so fucking pretty. Seriously. I could have capped nearly every shot to illustrate this.





I love that one in particular. It reminds me of studying graphic design and how much I used to love drawing things in two point perspective.





So carefully chosen and composed. The visuals are works of art, there's no denying it.

As much as I like hideous acts and depressing endings, horror when it is as beautiful and wonderful, heartbreaking and life-affirming as this... Well, it's a special thing indeed.

If you are late to view this like I was, rectify that immediately.

2 comments:

Teen Dreams said...

such a beautiful, haunting and evocative film. I am saddened they're already making a US version with Chloe Moretz from Kick Ass as the girl vampire :(

the jaded viewer said...

My problem with the remake is that I'll be so distracted by Chloe Moretz that all I will see is Hit Girl.

The true test of the remake will be the invitation scene. Will Hollywood wimp out or get graphic?