Monday, November 3, 2008

Let the Right One In

I just had a fabulous Halloween weekend in Toronto. A group of friends and I dressed up as Carnival revelers and splashed Church St. with much needed color. We were a hit! Of course, what is Halloween without a trek to the multiplex for a horror flick? Luckily, I wasn't limited to the latest installment of the SAW franchise (ugh!) . . . one of the beauties of traveling is getting so much more cinematic options! For months, I have been wanting to see LET THE RIGHT ONE IN just based on its trailer (see below). I was very fortunate that it was on a limited engagement in Toronto last weekend.

With TRUE BLOOD on HBO and the supernatural teen love story TWILIGHT coming to theaters in a couple of weeks, vampires are back in the limelight. But the Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN just may be one of the best in its genre yet. I won't spoil it by giving away too much in the synopsis. Basically, the film is about 12-year old Oskar who is constantly bullied in school . . . and he never fights back. Everything changes when he befriends Eli, the new girl who moves next door, and she encourages him to hit back. Hard. A rather strange advice from another 12-year old. And a girl! Then again, nothing is really normal with Eli. She is a vampire trapped in a 12-year old girl's body for eternity. Indeed, imagine Anne Rice penning a story about puppy love.

This beautifully shot film, which is at once touching, heartbreaking, terrifying and rewarding, is nothing like any horror movie you've seen. At its core is a sweet coming-of-age story with a dark sense of humor. I love that it breaks away from all vampire film stereotypes -- no effects-laden transformation scenes, no homoerotic undertones (sad but ultimately understandable), no victorian setting, no endless dark and brooding sceneries, and no fangs! And yet it is also based on traditional vampire lore about needing human blood for sustenance, extreme sensitivity to sunlight, and the notion that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited in. What we get is a bloodsucker film with great substance that is more focused on keeping its audiences glued to their seats rather than making them jump out of them. But worry not my fellow horror freaks -- it's still packed with bloody scenes and some gory surprises.

There is so much to love about this film. The cinematography is flawless -- replacing traditional dark vampire locales with a wintry Stockholm setting. The acting is phenomenal. Kudos to the rich performances of all the child actors. The story is just utterly original. I truly highly recommend this film for you adventurous moviegoers. (At 114 minutes, this might be too much for some people especially those who do not enjoy subtitles.)

Unfortunately, I don't believe it will be shown in Rochester nor in much of the US for that matter (it opened in NY and CA last 10/24 and expanding to a few more in the coming weeks). I already heard that it is slated for a DVD release in March 2009. And (gasp!) there are already plans of filming a Hollywood remake. I doubt it will ever be the same or as effective. After all, it features children as both killer and victims. How will Hollywood deal with that? So watch the original whenever and however you can.

Gay-meter: Zero. But Oskar's father does remind me of Keanu Reeves. And I never did understand that scene with the father's male friend stopping by for drinks. I seriously had my fingers crossed for a gay moment. But that was probably too much of a birthday wish. =)

~ Michael Gamilla
This film opens in Rochester in January 2009.


My self said...

You know that Eli is a castrated boy (vampire) right?

Michael G said...

Really? No I didn't know that! Was that in the book? Never read it. But now that you said it, that one scene makes much more sense -- you know, the one where Oskar got a peek-a-boo. Is that why Eli keeps saying she isn't a girl? I thought she just meant she is a 200-year old vampire, making her an older woman. =)

Michael G said...

Just got an email from the film curator at the Dryden and they are scheduled to screen LET THE RIGHT ONE IN in January 2009. Yey! Rochester folks will get a chance to see this amazing film locally.

Anonymous said...

Just saw it. It's very homoerotic. The movie is full of loving shots of half naked adolescent boys. E.g., the boy hanging upside down in the locker room -- hard to miss the homoerotic subtext. And except for Eli (who's not really a girl anyway) there are no adolescent girls in the movie. Usually a horror film has no shortage of attractive adolescent girls as victims. In fact, most of the victims were cute, skinny adolescent boys.

Michael G said...

Hmmm. After you've mentioned the adolescent boys, I could see the homoerotic tendencies now. But I suppose I was looking for more of the "legal" kind. LOL.