Thursday, October 7, 2010

Flashback Reviews: Let the Right One In

So... I'm sure most of you are wondering why I didn't take the time to review Let Me In last weekend. Well, the first was that there was another, much more anticipated film out then (The Social Network), so there was that. The second... was that said horror film is a remake.

I honestly don't understand remakes all that much. Either they get remade badly, or not at all... I hear Let Me In actually isn't terrible, but still, it's a bit pointless I think.

So today, I thought I'd go back to the original Swedish film. Why? Because, as you can tell on my profile, it's one of my favorite horror films.

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (2008)

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a lonely boy who lives with his mom and gets bullied constantly by other boys. Then, the enigmatic Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next door to him, and the two begin to form a very close friendship. But when Eli shows up, people start dying in gruesome ways around the neighborhood. Oskar is thus set to find out that Eli is actually a vampire, and things get very complicated from there.

So... this is about as anti-Twilight as you can get. Yes, it's a vampire love story, but it's an atypical one from Stephenie Meyer wherein everything that made vampires so mystical is back with a vengeance. It's also very disturbingly graphic as a result. It's full on-horror here, and this gets it right.

And it's kind of beautiful in its own way. The movie has a very pale canvas surrounding it, and its use of color is restrained in that there's almost nothing there in terms of bright primary colors. (This is something the remake looks to have retained, and I am all the happier for it.) It certainly has a very jarring effect whenever blood does make an appearance within this whitewashed world; it's garish in its own disturbing little way, and it actually creates a great feeling of disgust. I think this alone makes the use of gore in this movie far more effective than it does in something like, say, Final Destination. Blood is disturbing enough on its own; but when it's tastefully used as the only incredibly bright primary color that shows up? That is even more disturbing. It's even more strange how the gore is treated in some spots; there's one part of the movie that I always remember since it's quite bloody-- but also somehow manages to be incredibly heartwarming at exactly the same time.

And that's the blood when it does show up; this is the kind of slow-burning horror that really ups the ante on the tension for what happens. It's... difficult to describe the way tension is built in this movie. Everything moves very slowly, so when we get violence it's quite unsettling. It also takes the time to build up everything relating to the characters, and we come to care for them as things unfold around them.

But overall, everything is held together from great performances from its two leads. It's quite a gambit for children to be able to hold a movie like this on their shoulders, particularly when whether the movie works or not hinges on your child actors. And the two leads nailed everything on the head. Oskar is appropriately frightened of many things around him, Eli is appropriately mysterious and alluring as necessary, and everything comes together in part because their performances are so great.

It's difficult for me to describe what makes Let the Right One In work as well as it does. Perhaps it's the infiltration of dread in an otherwise safe love story that makes the contrast work beautifully. Perhaps it's the visual style with it's white-washed landscapes only colored by the extremely rare (and prominent) blood. Perhaps it's the performances of the leads. But I think it's a combination of all of these factors, and it's this combination that makes this particular movie one of my favorite horror movies of all time.


A must-see picture.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

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