June 24, 2009

Let The Right One In (2008)

IN HIS GREAT BOOK Five Stars!, author and Filmcritic.com founder Christopher Null says to never read other critics’ reviews of a film before you review it; it’ll influence and compromise the integrity of what you write.

But with Let The Right One In, this was hard to do. Reviews were everywhere about how great this film is – that it put fresh blood, so to speak, into the vampire genre.

So as best I could, I mentally set aside what I’d read and pressed Play...

• Outcast Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a bullied 12-year-old who’s obsessed with violent crimes (he even keeps a scrapbook of newspaper clippings of horrendous headlines). One day, new neighbors move into his apartment complex: a man and a 12-year-old girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson).
• After a few awkward encounters, Oskar and Eli become friends. What Oskar eventually discovers is that Eli is a vampire, and the man is Renfield to Eli’s Dracula – helping get her the blood she needs to live.
• Eventually, Eli kills on her own and gets sloppy, catching the eye of a neighbor during one of her attacks. Will her cover be blown? Or will Oskar protect her, no matter what?

• Director Tomas Alfredson, along with cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, has created a visually beautiful film – albeit a largely quiet, slow-moving one (featuring a sparse, quiet score by Johan Söderqvist). The film is full of long, hanging shots of still beauty, and there’s minimal action for the first two acts – truthfully, there’s minimal action for a drama, let alone a supposed horror film.
• Hedebrant and Leandersson play their parts well, using insecure body language and timid conversations to convey their awkwardness and isolation from the rest of the world.
• And while most of Right One does play out rather quietly and methodically, there are several powerful scenes – including, with no exaggeration, one of the most awesome scenes I’ve witnessed in a long time.

My initial reaction to Let The Right One In was, “bore-riiiiing” – a plodding pace with lots of “isn’t this beautiful?” cinematography. But the more I thought about it, I now feel it’s a pretty good movie, and here’s why…

To say Right One is a horror film is misleading and incorrect. More accurately, it’s a burgeoning love story between two young misfits, one of whom just happens to be a vampire. If you take that mindset going into the film, you’ll end up with a more satisfying experience.

Swedish, with subtitles.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Will your kids want to watch it?
You may have kids who think “cool” when they hear “vampire movie,” but be forewarned that Right One is rated R for good reason. Despite the long stretches of scenery and dialogue, there’s plenty of graphic violence: People are dismembered, burned alive, have their neck snapped, hung upside down from a tree and bled from their slit throat, and have their blood sucked by a very hungry Eli. There’s also a brief glimpse of a bottomless Leandersson as she changes clothes.

Will your FilmMother like it?
If she can get past (or is okay with) the bloodletting and occasional gore, as well as the extended scenes of inaction, the budding relationship between Oskar and Eli may very well pull her in and keep her engaged in the film.

Creepy...looks like something I'd see at It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

Let The Right One In
• Director: Tomas Alfredson
• Screenwriter: John Ajvide Lindqvist
• Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Patrik Rydmark
• MPAA Rating: R (some bloody violence including disturbing images, brief nudity and language)

Buy this movie for less at Half.com >>


Jim @ CoolStuffForDads.com said...

Looks interesting ... speaking of vampires, Little Vampire is a nice family film targeted at a much younger audience.

Retro Hound said...

Not to comment on this movie in particular, but just to say that you need a search or an alphabetical tag or something. I'm getting Paul Blart on Netflix today and was wondering if it's OK for the kiddos. So naturally, this is the first place I look. I finally found a PG tag (I think that's what it's rated) but it wasn't listed there.

FilmFather said...

@RetroHound: Excellent suggestion on tagging my reviews so you can search alphabetically. Check out the lower right area of the page for my labels, which now feature alphabetical tags. Happy hunting! (Sorry, no Paul Blart review yet.)

Keith said...

I saw a trailer for this one, but hadn't come across anyone who had seen it.

Jeff Allard said...

I feel like anyone coming across LTROI at this point unfortunately has a lot of hype in their way when it comes to enjoying the movie. I didn't really love it myself until I realized that days after watching it that I couldn't stop thinking about certain scenes and lines of dialogue. I believe it is a classic but it's one that sneaks up on you.

Kathy B. said...

I'm strangely/weirdly attracted to all vampire movies - I'll have to check it out.

Retro Hound said...

Well we watched Paul Blart and I think it's ok for the kiddos.

KeegsMom said...

We loved LTROI ... for me, it was one of those films that sort of percolated afterwards, and the imagery and the mood was really what won me over... yes, it's a misfits story, really!

Re: Search, i think people forget that the search box waaay up top on blogspot blogs (in the strip at top left) allows you to search the blog in question. Er, don't they?

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