International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year:
Let the Right One In
Directed by Tomas
Aby Davis review
spooky has come over me, in recent months I have found myself cautiously
peering into the genre of horror and being pleasantly thrilled with
the results. Previous years saw me cowering behind cushions, giant
popcorn and other people at anything slightly scarier than Jurassic
Park and tentative peeps into sleepover horror films could stretch
as far The Others but not further.
really, that anything with nice, familiar Nicole Kidman in it sent me
practically headfirst into my neighbours sleeping bag. But now
our country is under supernatural attack and its about right I
got my head out of happy land... vampires are everywhere. Stephanie
Meyers Twilight series have spawned a host of copycat paperbacks
and re-birthed forgotten classics, teenage girls have been sent into
giddy, neck pinching fits with her portrayal of sexy, brooding Edward
Cullen who is a vegetarian and plays the piano. The Gavin
and Stacey boys disappointed with their depiction of Lesbian Vampire
Killers but the Twilight film has generated enough hype to
keep the public stocked with a few years of vampire romance blockbusters,
and with every mainstream trend exists a quiet independent version,
nudging its nose into the limelight and satisfying broadsheet critics
with its arty cinematography.
Its a shame that Tomas Alfredsons Let the Right One
in was released on the wave of Twilight hysteria, as it is a
powerful little film in its own right and doesnt deserve the inevitable
in a Swedish winter in the 1980s, the council block backdrop
provides a conveniently dark and moody landscape for the new vampire
in town. 12 year old Eli and her father move next door
to Oskar, quiet, lonely and bullied by his classmates. To his surprise,
the strange girl he meets in the solitary silence of snow and darkness
takes an interest in him, despite initially warning him that they
cant be friends.
The scene is set
for a tender love story, two misfit children finding solace in each
others company, something a few audience members werent
expecting. A few people left the cinema after the first appearance of
subtitles, and during the end credits the couple seated next to me could
be heard to murmur, wasnt quite the exciting, fighting flick
we were expecting was it?.
The film is just under two hours but it does feel slow at times, shots
of sky speckled with softly falling snowdrops cast a hush beauty over
the film and Oskar walks everywhere with a slow world weary trudge as
snow crunches beneath his feet. Eli herself is a beautiful, petit brunette
with huge Disney princess eyes and a shy, cartoonish smile, but her
hair is lank and unbrushed and her fingernails are thick with crusted
blood. It may be beautiful, but this film doent shy away from
gore, in fact, theres plenty of it.
An early shot shows Elis father draining a lifeless
corpse of blood as it hangs from a tree and someones poodle watches.
The man flees and the dog walkers stumble across the scene and gape
in horror as their dog laps at the dark puddle on the floor. Eli hides
in the shadows under a bridge waiting for a midnight snack, and with
animalistic grunts and growls leaps onto a passing well-wisher, more
dark blood splattered on the pure snow. The flat she lives in is dank
and seedy in contrast to Oskars bright apartment. As the children
tap out morse code to each other through the walls, one might wonder
why Eli appears impervious to Oskars human charms, but a scene
in which Oskar attempts to make them blood brothers reveals Eli as the
terrifying monster she can be. She may be a child, but she is definitely
not a good vampire. The special effects are used on Eli
with great affect, breaking up the stark realism of Oskars lonely
world as her innocent features shift into exaggerated menace with all
the ease of Japanese anime. Let the Right one In has no room
for moralistic pretension; it instead deals with the ideas of good and
bad with childish logic. Eli is a murderuous vampire, but empowers Oskar
in his fight against school playground bullies. The shocking climactic
scene in a swimming pool is both terrifying and hilarious, concluding
the film with a darkly comic victory through blood streaked Bambi eyes.
Leaving the cinema and facing the quiet lull of a night time shopping
centre, it was hard not to imagine monkey-like vampires creeping up
the dead escalators and scuttling over the blank eyes of sleeping shops.
Let the Right One In creeps under your skin like the cold of softly
falling snow, chilly yet with a confusing nostalgia of childhood fear,
and comfort. While films like Twilight and Lesbian Vampire
Killers aim for immediate appeal with crowd pleasing gimmicks, Let
the Right One in relies on the kind of good storytelling that stays
with you till that murky space between consciousness and sleep.
© Aby Davis May 8th 2009
Aby is a graduate of the Creative Writing programme at the University
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.