Vampire stories as they should be
I usually don’t have much luck with random movies I decide to watch by myself, but once in a while a friend’s “like” on Facebook will lead me to a surprisingly superb film like Let the Right One In. After admittedly struggling with finding a good link and then trying to find the Swedish one instead of a terrible English dub, I was happy I struggled through this because even the first few minutes of the film are captivating.
There’s always something to be said for films that manage to have a very strong narrative quality with very little dialogue. It wasn’t even a film that had actors with those great subtle facial expressions, but somehow, by some creative genius, it survived all the same.
You can tell right away when a film is not aiming to be sensational. When it’s too quiet. When they let the camera linger on scenery or when they draw out a new scene or don’t cut from one image to the next so quickly you don’t know what you’re looking at. This has the uncomfortably hyper-realistic pacing of a lot of indie films. There’s no real sense of time passing; you sort of sit in a stasis, and it’s the events which indicate progression and nothing else.
That being said, this is still a gory film about the lifestyle that must (MUST) be maintained by a realistic vampire that must kill to stay alive. It dealt with all the traditional vampire lore, including one character that gets bitten by the vampire Eli but doesn’t die — so she changes, and the change drives her mad, so in the hospital she has her doctor open the blinds and she bursts into flame. A little cheesy with the special effects in this moment (also when she got attacked by cats…I guess that explains why Danyil’s never liked cats), but it was still refreshing to see vampire lore followed so far like this. Additionally there is the aspect where Eli starts bleeding from every pore of her body if she enters a house where she hasn’t been verbally welcomed. I enjoyed that aspect. Grim, but hey, I guess that explains why that rule would be in place.
Another aspect of the film I enjoyed is Oskar’s…pasty whiteness. I mean, he’s your typical Swede — big, clear blue eyes; WHITE blond hair (straight as fettuccine); virtually transparent skin. But it played well in one of the final scenes when Eli wakes up to this guy that’s trying to kill her because she killed his best friend and his girlfriend, and she kills him in your typical nasty bloody fashion, so she comes out to Oskar and says she has to leave, and she kisses him, and it’s like Eli come on, couldn’t you wipe your mouth first. But when she pulls back and Oskar’s white white whiteness is corrupted just around his lips by a bloody kiss, it’s like DAMN, way to reverse stereotypical gender roles!
Let the Right One In is set in a cold white winter that painfully reminded me of Minnesota winters. The main boy, Oskar, is a little white creature struggling with bullies and mildly dysfunctional parents. He’s quite mild himself, keeping his cool most of the film so that even in the more violent moments he’s not squealing or freaking out in an annoying way, as children (and all people involved in vampire stories) have the tendency to be.
This was a good random film to find to keep my mind off my 4-hour flight in the morning, but it might have kept me up a little later than intended. The weird thing about films like this though is that they can be bloody as fuck and still not really scare me. I guess I’ve written so many scenes like that myself I just don’t expect anything different.