Let The Right One In

I wasn’t keen to watch this, but was convinced by some good reviews and a persistent fiancé.

I’m not a vampire/ horror/ gore film fan – I’m pretty squeamish with a hugely active imagination. I think my ability to suspend belief means that those visceral images don’t seem absurd to me, so they stick in my head for months afterwards preventing me from sleeping soundly!

Saying that, Let the Right One In (the original, not the pointless American remake) was not the blood-bath I feared. It was really a film about disconnected youth, a coming of age genre which happened to feature some pretty dark characters.

The little girl vampire, ‘Eli’ is secondary to the lonely characters which dwell in a rather mournful housing estate, home to hero, and local boy, ‘Oscar’.

Her, and her father’s, arrival don’t bring the community any moral message eg, they don’t gel this disjointed neighbourhood together, and neither do they rip it apart. You get the sense that the lonely occupants will continue their sad lives in exactly the same way after the vampires leave. After all, the ‘murders’ hardly stir the other characters into action or feeling - even the ones directly affected.

The ‘father’ figure is almost laughable. I felt like he was a bit dim, because he fails to execute the two men he identifies as ‘food’, barely speaks and offers himself as a wilful sacrifice hours later. It’s not even clear if he’s a vampire, or a pervert who looks after ‘Eli’?

The film is beautiful. Very architectural in cinematography. Clean lines, wide angle shots. Colours have been washed away to a wintry palette of grey, blue and white – with just the odd highlight of contrasting orange or yellow coming from the boy Oscar.

The director, Tomas Alfredson, uses a lot of close ups of peoples’ hands or ears, or back of head – rather than their face. This ‘first person’ technique,  makes the film feel very intimate, but also frustrates the narrative, as you feel you want to look around you and you can’t – you’re blinkered at the will of the director.

Other than some moments a conservative American audience wouldn’t stomach (the child nudity for example) I can’t understand why there was a need to remake this. Yes, it’s in Swedish, but it’s a nice, discombobulating language to listen to which adds to the disjointed feeling of the film. Also, the dialogue is not dominant, it’s very much the ‘atmosphere’ of the film which makes the lasting impression – what you see, not what you hear.

The best of example is the very original ending, with ‘Oscar’ hiding from the horrors above him in the pool. I HATE gore, but in this moment, I found myself inwardly cheering for Eli that she had come to save the day.

4 out of 5 – very surprised by this original, strangely uplifting film.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I'm not very good with horror either these days (also due to overactive imagination) but I really liked this film.

    Agree that the Swedish language really adds something to the experience. It's so cold and disjointed, as you say. Perfect blend of elements.

    I haven't watched the remake and I don't think I will.