Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let the Right One In (2008)

Disclaimer: I have attempted to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, with varying success.

Let the Right One In is a film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It’s a film about vampires, in a Swedish suburb in the 1970’s/1980’s, judging by the characters’ garb. Now then, what would make this movie worth watching? Let me tell you… It’s really bloody good!

What separates Let the Right One In from the rest of the dubious collection of vampire flicks, is that in many ways, it’s a “realistic” vampire movie. For once, vampires are portrayed as they were originally meant to be: Intelligent beings that prey on human to survive. That’s it. No stupid mutation/biotech/whatever “vampires”, nor fruity sexed-up Anne Rice goth-rave mascara monsters. The portrayal of vampires in Let the Right One In is quite close to the original supernatural, mysterious parasites, while retaining a personality.

The main characters of the movie are Oskar, a more or less messed-up 12-year old boy who is bullied in school, and Eli, who appears to be a 12-year old girl. The story follows the developments of Oskar’s life from the point when Eli becomes his neighbor, and how Oskar attempts to deal with his problems at home and at school. At the same time we are given insights to Eli’s day to day existence, revealing a less-than glamorous (un)life. The story is quite unique in the world of vampire movies, due to geographical location, age of the main characters, and the emphasis on their interaction with each other and the world.

The acting is consistently of high quality, as are the cinematography and the sound. The use of CGI is also (mostly) very conservative, and this feeling pervades the entire movie. The characters are complex and believable. Cliché’s are avoided (except obviously some of those relating to traditional vampires). Nearly everything is played down to rather realistic levels, which makes the gore all the more striking in comparison to the rest of the movie. This results in a rather visceral experience on the few occasions that it is employed, and restraint has resulted in something that feels much more professional than what you’d expect if the same story was told by Hollywood(enter gas explosions, and gimmicky use of vampires and CGI).

Which leads me to the obvious gripe that this movie is destined to get a (in all likelihood, vastly inferior) Hollywood remake. I blame people too lazy to read subtitles, and Hollywood’s compulsion to remake those crazy forrreign films the proper American way. Probably with explosions, teen “romance” and… fuck it. Moving on…

Let the Right One In is a bit of an oddball of a movie, if you go in expecting a usual vampire movie. It’s far more cerebral, and for the observant viewer, manages to retain a higher level of menace and disturbing connotations than any vampire movie I remember off-hand. It’s not just a good vampire movie, it’s a good movie. Everyone with even the most cursory interest should definitely see it. Who knows, you’ll probably like it.

Oh, and these vampires don’t sparkle.

Verdict: Epic Win (just Win if vampires aren't really your thing)


frank austin said...

For what it's worth, I wouldn't rate this movie anything lower than a 9/10. It suffers from some pacing problems in rare moments that keep it from being perfect, but other than that I really can't think of a negative thing to say about it.

Everyone should see this, for a myriad of reasons.

Rhan said...

Damn, posted the wrong verdict. It was supposed to be Win(Epic win if you like vampires),which I changed to just Epic Win, but Word is being a bitch again. Correcting... Done.

is this your life? said...

Frank and I saw this together and talked it over, so we're both pretty much on the same level about it.

Although, he missed the underage boygirl vagina scars :D

Also, I hate the cover they have for it, it's too...Hollywood horror-y. Oh, and the trailer is pretty shite, too.

Here's a link to what I put down about the movie. Rhan's review is more than adequate, though - this is just supplemental.

Rhan said...

It's surprisingly difficult to avoid spoilers in a movie review. It's just so satisfying to piece things together by yourself without being spoiler'd.

I'm still quite apprehensive about the Cloverfield dude's version. I liked the subtle way this one was directed.

is this your life? said...

Yeah, not spoiling anything is really difficult, especially in a movie like this where you really can't sum it up easily. Honestly, this movie sounds so retarded if you try to explain it in a sentence. Everytime I tell someone about it, I start to do that and stop when I see the skeptical look on their face.

I hope you're not saying there are spoilers in my review D:

I definitely don't have any expectations of the Cloverfield bloke's version being better, but I do have a tiny hope that it will be decent, maybe even serve as a nice counterpoint to this one. I'm sure it'll be all gritty and full of horror movie tropes, though.


autothrall said...

Did you hold hands?

autothrall said...

In hindsight, Cloverfield was a pretty weak film. I could tear into that one if you guys wanted.

I will never understand why critically acclaimed foreign films can't just get a wider release here...seriously, America needs to stop breeding idiots through LCD remakes and dubs.

YES: If you can't handle subtitles, you are an idjit.

is this your life? said...

I was definitely morse-coding the word kiss on frank's chair, but he didn't seem to notice.

I have to disagree on Cloverfield,especially since I liked Hud a lot. However, I would love to see you tear it apart if you're ready to, and I'm definitely not going to review it.

And yeah, people who can't read subtitles are fucking dumb.

"But I want to WATCH the movie!!1"

lrn 2 reed fstr nub

If a movie is good enough, you'll want to watch it again to catch the little details anyways.

Fucking Americans.

autothrall said...

I wouldn't really be able to tear up the whole thing. There were some things about it I liked. Street eye view of a giant monster breakout?

I am down for that.

Street eye view of a giant monster breakout by an ineffectual camera man and a bunch of 'young hottie actors'? FUCK AMERICA.

is this your life? said...

haha, yeah, I'm with you there. I was a bit disappointed that uh the bloke's lovergirl was still alive when they got to her, but everyone died in the end (I presume), so at least they didn't take that shit too far.

Now I'm imagining something along the lines of Lemmy in the same situation.

It's pretty fucking awesome.

Hm, did the shakey cam bother you at all? I really enjoyed it in Cloverfield, especially compared to 28 Weeks Later.

Mm, does anyone mind if I take a shit on 28 Weeks Later? I had blotted that movie from my memory.

autothrall said...

The camera did not bother me, just the director's choice to go with 'hot young' annoying actors instead of a better cast.

Please, feel free, 28 Weeks Laters sucks and is an offense to the first film.

autothrall said...

The only movie I feel I have to review is the BIG one from last year. And yeah, that one.

is this your life? said...

yeah, we definitely need to get THAT one up.

I think this is the most comments any review has gotten so far.

Walri said...

I didn't really like Cloverfield... The trailer made it look like a sweet Lovecraftian flick, though.

Rhan said...

Oh no Unicorn, your review didn't have any serious spoilers(although some of the thematic reveals might be more satisfying to come up by yourself while seeing the movie IMO).

Cloverfield was a pretty interesting idea, and I loved the sequences with the big monster just wrecking everyone's shit, although the movie did suffer from a major case of young hot actors, as has been said here already.

I'd love to read someone else's take on 28 Weeks Later though.