Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lat den ratte komma in/Let the Right One In (2008)

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist (based on novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist)
Actors: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Rating: 3 1/2 Black Sheep

In a year when vampires are enjoying a renewed place in the spotlight sadly thanks to such Hollywood fare as Twilight (grossed close to $200 million in the US so far), another vampire film has quietly made quite the impression on more discerning viewers. Let the Right One In is a phenomenal new Swedish film that is a must see for just about anyone.

Oskar is a 12 year old loner who seems to have trouble making friends, let alone keeping out of the path of the bullies who torment him daily. Everything changes when he meets Eli, a mysterious girl who moves into his apartment building in the middle of the night. The two children connect through their mutual loneliness but it doesn’t take long for Oskar to realize that Eli is hiding a sinister secret.

Let the Right One In
is not a horror movie, at least not in the traditional sense. It is a darkly bittersweet drama with horror elements that takes on the vampire mythology from a fresh if chilly perspective. The film is set in the dead of winter and the ever snow white setting lends a feeling of numbing emptiness that complements the story in all the right ways. The plot is character-driven with brief moments of brutality that are over almost as soon as they begin. You feel for these children even as you realize that their moral compasses may be diseased.

The cinematography in Let the Right One In is interesting and deliberate. The camera is not merely there to relay a story but to manipulate every step of the telling. On several occasions, the focus sharply zeroes in on the one stationary subject in the frame while all the action of interest remains blurred in the background where the viewer has to make assumptions about what is actually happening. I found myself almost frustrated that I wasn’t able to look at what was really taking place but at the same time, it forced me to be all the more conscious of the choices being made in the telling of the story.

The only thing that keeps me from giving Let the Right One In a top rating of four black sheep is one solitary scene. For the majority of the film, the special effects are subtle but disturbingly effective, giving the viewer just enough to understand the gravity of what is happening. For reasons I can’t possibly fathom, there is a scene where CGI is grossly and comically overused to the point of distraction. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the movie and in my mind it is a tragic besmirching of great filmmaking. The fact that this is such an excellent film makes it all the more sad.

There you have it. Now go out and rent this one or even buy it; you won’t be sorry!

Now on to my news: I am in the planning process for a podcast that will be available for what I hope will be your listening pleasure sometime mid to late summer of this year. I will have a co-host and we will be discussing movies, movies, and more movies that fit under the general category of genre/cult/outside-the-mainstream. I have a lot of ideas for the different segments that will be featured but I’m still in the brainstorming stage, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment. Most likely the name will be The CineFiles of Citizen Irene or something similar and once the podcast launches, it will replace this blog. I will keep you posted and please, please send your comments my way!

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