Monday, July 11, 2011

Let the Right One In

Låt den rätte komma in; Drama/ horror, Sweden, 2008; D: Tomas Alfredson, S: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

Stockholm, winter. Oskar is a 12-year outsider child who is constantly bullied and mentally abused by Conny and his gang in school. Likewise, his parents are divorced. However, he makes friends with a strange girl his age, Eli. She is a vampire who was left without an apartment after her "friend" couldn't kill people anymore for her and committed suicide. Following Eli's advice, Oskar stands up for himself and hits Conny with a pole, damaging his ear. When Conny older brother, another bully, forces Oskar under water in a pool, Eli intervenes and kills him. Oskar is thus saved.

The famous song "Hello Goodbye" seems to be close to the "Let the Right One In" experience: it seems as if the director and screenwriter deliberately attached and unified some elements which usually do not go together. For instance, it is not quite clear why the story insisted that the main protagonists in a horror should be - kids. It is truly rare to find that feature, even Argento had to change his script for "Suspiria" and give his protagonists at least 18 years of age because it would have been unseen for to work with minors on such harsh materials. Another unusual feature in this Swedish vampire movie is that horror is actually affiliated with bullying and mental abuse in school, aka with humans, while the vampires are actually overshadowed. Still, this is the kind of film that only Sweden could have pulled off and could have never been made in the US: 12-year old kids swear, are shown naked and perform violence (the scene where Oskar finally strikes bully Conny is chilling). However, it looks more like the director just inserted those bizarre elements because he could, instead of them seeming to perfectly fit within the story for a reason. Some subplots don't go nowhere, either. As some sort of fantasy/escapism on bullying in school (where a vampire saves a tormented hero), the movie works the best. And at least one moment is simply virtuoso directed - the finale where a bully is holding Oskar under water in pool, but then the tip of someone's legs are seen passing above the surface and then something unbelievable happens. The devotion between two outsiders, played brilliantly by actors Hederbrant and Lina Leandersson, is the main source of power for this bizarre film.



J Luis Rivera said...

I'm a huge fan of this film... the remake was kind of dissapointing but weird. Weird in the sense that it was not a bad movie, but that the fact that I had already seen the original taited it a lot.

Same thing happened to me with "Quarantine" after watching "[Rec]".

Marin Mandir said...

It definetely had brilliant moments. Yet, some also just left me puzzled. However, as a whole, it an interesting enterprise from Sweden.