Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Let The Right One In

After a recent trip to Ikea I'm pretty sure the Swedes should combine their skills in pre-made furniture and horror films and shoot one there. The silver lining to that nightmare Saturday afternoon excursion was that it finally got me to curl up under my Henny Väv duvet, flick off my Larga lamp and watch Let The Right One In. I am admittedly late on this, but with the American remake opening soon (biting my tongue) I figured I should finally cross this movie off my ever-growing list.

Let The Right One In is a vampire take on Kids Help Phone – Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is bullied at school and can’t tell anyone or do anything about it until he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson). Eli, who only comes out at night, appears out of nowhere very quietly and is perpetually pale…It’s not so much a love story as it is about the state of being lonely. So, as bizarre as our main characters are, since this feeling is something fundamental about being it means you find yourself relating to a highly awkward Swedish preteen and a Gothic vampire.

The violence is wonderfully shot, hovering between stark realism and an eerie surrealism. Eli’s kill under the bridge, for instance, is so symmetrically shot and balanced it only adds to the haunting feel - a highly controlled shot capturing her wild animalistic kill. Yet the disposal of bodies is so anti-Dexter (read: a lot of huffing and puffing and lugging bodies on a red kid sled) it adds authenticity to this fable.

And, of course, you get tons of blood on snow. One could go the route of the “stained purity” etc etc, but I think we can pull out a larger thought. Snow is Mother Nature’s cover up – it hides everything beneath it and marks made on it. The blood on the snow in this film is less about purity being lost (Eli's already a vampire, too late) as it is a cry to be acknowledged – especially considering the first time we see blood on snow it happens is when Eli’s “father" Håkan (Per Ragnar) kills for her. Perhaps the loneliest of all the characters, and the most obscure, his clumsy killing seems like he wants to be caught, if only to gain Eli’s attention. There is a similar sense with the first kill that we see Eli make. Both seem so willing to make thier mark (blood on snow) as this is who they are, and both are tired of hiding it.

But despite all this, Let The Right One it a bit like your grandma's patchwork quilt: it functions, but not all the squares really work together (there's a blanket trend in this post...). Individual themes are interesting, the aesthetic is pleasing, moments of cinematography are truly beautiful, but it all fails to sync together tightly. In short, Let The Right One In invites you in, but fails to draw you in. 

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