TBT: Let the Right One In (2008)

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Happy Halloween everyone! In trying to properly celebrate the world’s most bizarre ‘holiday,’ today’s entry nearly did not happen, as I couldn’t find a copy of the original Halloween and I’m not into the whole bootlegging thing (yet). . .that, and I don’t watch a lot of T.V. Then the second choice was going to be Child’s Play. Netflix again failed me by informing me that there was a “very long wait” associated with that particular rental. So I was forced to go to other options. After pouring over many great suggestions from you fine folks, I decided to go in a completely different direction and I wound up watching a movie about. . . vampires. I know. I know. These, if anything, seem to be the type of ‘horror’ film that I would instantly be turned off by. Predictable, utterly cliched, and usually just. . .weird as hell, I’ve yet to find a vampire film that I could really enjoy. And then I stumbled across this little gem, something that many people might not necessarily associate with ‘horror.’ Nonetheless, today’s TBT turned out to be a great choice and I’m glad I made it. 

Today’s food for thought: Let the Right One In

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Release: January 26, 2008

[Netflix]

This review is coming at you right off the heels of the end credits, which only finished just seconds ago; therefore this is going to be the freshest any film has been on my mind since I started doing Throwback Thursday. And as such, this is probably going to be a sloppy review. All the same, the beauty and sublime perfection that is Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is likely to leave a lasting impression upon me. This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever laid eyes on. And again, vampires do did almost nothing for me.

A Swedish film, Let the Right One In is about a young boy who finds his first romance in a girl who’s not quite human. Alfredson’s work here is stunning for a couple of reasons. Let’s start with the cinematography, considering this element is all but impossible to gloss over.

It’s obvious that Alfredson is about as taken with the elegance of winter — what, with all its crystal-tipped trees, snow-blanketed wonderlands — as any person might be who may consider themselves a romantic. The winter is harsh and unforgiving — especially the further north you go — but the director is intent on capturing the exquisite beauty, if but to simply distract for a moment or two from the world as it were. It’s also a perfectly spooky setting in which to make a horror film. The wintery environs throughout compound the effect of the many bizarre murders that happen in this small town near Stockholm. Bodies are discovered buried in snowdrifts, in thick ice; the chilled breaths of the characters provide an instant discomfort from the opening scenes.

Fortunately there is a story woven like fine fabric through this frozen wonderland of troubled youth, despair and oppression. Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is introverted and a little strange, resulting in his constant bullying at school. He wants to do something about it but can’t find it within himself to actually take action. Then one night he comes across a very strange girl on a playground just outside of his decrepit apartment block — a girl about his age (“I’m 12, more or less. . .”) and the two become friends, even despite her initial not wanting to even go that far. She’s actually a vampire, destined forever to live off the fresh blood of humans, otherwise she’ll die.

Of course, none of this information she reveals at first, which is part of what makes this such an interesting watch. Bit by bit we see this innocent/vampiric personality coming together. Alfredson selects the perfect moments to reveal the characterizations of the “vampire,” using the experiences of this disturbed boy to reflect the nature of humanity versus that of the undead (what exactly are vampires — are they dead, or not? If someone can riddle me that one, I’ll give them. . .a Twix, or something. . .)

Instead of associating laughable, questionable special effects with the actions of these kinds of creatures, the girl (an excellent performance from Lina Leandersson) her character is very much reacting to and interacting with the real world, in real time. Her attacks are not only necessary but understandable. We know why she’s sucking so much blood from the necks of these otherwise-harmless passersby. And we see the effects her presence takes on the town. Each murder becomes more and more strange, and as they do, Eli (Leandersson) knows her stay in this tiny, frost-laden town is dwindling. Only, she begins to fall in love with a real person — Oskar.

The relationship is beautiful, as much as the scenery is a pleasure to watch. I could stare at the introductory scene all day. And while this couldn’t seem more of an odd choice for the night when we celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, the only thing more terrifying than it is the prospect of sitting through a shit horror film on that night. Fortunately, my experience tonight was completely the opposite. I want to reveal so much more about this film, but alas I cannot, for fear of ruining the entire experience for you.

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4-0Recommendation: This will not be the scariest thing you can find on Halloween, but if your goal is to watch a quality flick, here is one rare example of applying classical elements to a story very much steeped in reality. The locations help to make things interesting as well, as Sweden is a beautiful landscape of architectural splendor, barren isolation and unrepentant cold. In short, this is the perfect location to find some creep creatures lurking around. Forget about coffins and Dracula. This is a vampire movie for the 21st century, and it really works.

Rated: R

Running Time: 114 mins.

Quoted: “Oskar, I do it because I have to. Be me for a while. Please, Oskar. Be me, for a little while. . .”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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19 thoughts on “TBT: Let the Right One In (2008)

    • Thanks Mutant, it is. I happened to stumble upon it in desperation for something to put up here this Thursday — turns out, I made a heck of a choice.

  1. Don’t hate me Tom! Probably didn’t make myself very clear in my last comment. For the record I *love* Let the Right One In. The point I made about it being a children’s film with vampires in wasn’t meant disparagingly. I think it speaks to the talent of both Hedebrant and Leandersson (and director Alfredson) that Let the Right One In works so well as a film predominately about the relationship between two children, one of whom happpens to be a vampire. Their performances are utterly authentic, which is a remarkable skill to pull off. I would add that the Hollywood remake doesn’t work as well because the relationship between its child leads isn’t as engaging. I guess we can agree to disagree over how much of a vampire flick it is (it’s obviously a ‘vampire film’ in so much as vampires are in it), but I personally feel the film works as well as it does by not letting the vampire stuff get in the way of what’s an absorbing tale of kinship forged out of loneliness.

    • that’s very true, good point. I guess yeah I didn’t glean that from what you said before, but I totally agree with that actually. The children actors were astonishing, and authentic as you noted. Sound logic, as well, regarding how much emphasis was placed on a sweet relationship. . . and, oh yeah, this girl happens to be an unusual sort of ‘person,’ too.

      Since you explained yourself, I have added you back to my blogroll. . . 😉 haha

    • Respectfully (only because we’re friends, Mark 😉 ), I’d have to really disagree with that. If anything, it’s the latter. A great vampire flick starring two strong kid-actors. The up-and-coming young actors in this film have a future. But at the same time, I understand the sentiment with “a children’s film with vampires in it.” That’s true, but I think that grossly dismisses the talent of Hedebrant and Leandersson. 🙂

  2. The special-effects were lame, but everything else was incredibly heartfelt and great. Especially that little friendship these two share. Good review.

    • I don’t even recall there being a whole lot of special FX, but i remembered the lady on fire being not too bad. thanks though man!

  3. Feel free to edit this comment if you want but – this movie was fucking beautiful and that swimming pool scene blew my fucking mind!! Loved it! Great work!

    • lol no editing necessary, that’s basically how I felt about it, too! Thanks so much dude. This was a very nice surprise for me.

    • Absolutely Chris!! Cheers. I loved this one. Sweden is gorgeous for its scenery, and apparently its directors can really direct!

  4. Great review! I am glad to see that you enjoyed this. Only watched sections of it before, so I really need to get down and watch it all.

    • oh yeah you gotta watch the whole thing through. It’s such a lovely movie, maybe not an appropriately ‘scary’ one for Halloween, but i’d rather review something I’d never seen before and have it be good than review something I’d already seen before/something that was bad. hahah

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