Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Weeks Too Late: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In. Directed by Tomas Alfredson & Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Aside (lets just chit chat): In an effort to be clever dicks Doomwench and I have decided to review the movie and book form of the same thing. We thought this little experiment turned out pretty well, so we talked at length about doing something similar every once in a while. As it turns out, the only movie/book combos we could come up with that we could both stomach were vampire based. What a strange thing to have in common.

(why must you make me hit you, vampire movies?): After the disappointment that was
Daybreakers I wasn't certain I was ready to waste another two hours on the overexposed vampire movie sub-genre. However, Doomwench is a noted expert on the subject, so at her recommendation I rented it. Despite her glowing review, I was a closed door to this movie and it needed to be something pretty special to stop me from writing another snippy vampire movie review.

General Review
(I was wrong again, is it really a surprise at this point): This was a strong movie. Easily the best vamp movie I've seen since Shadow of Vampire (though not such a laugh riot). There is something about bleak winter settings that makes me believe in vampires more than in cityscape. Blood and undead feet in the snow really do it for me (think there is a fetish for that? Bloody, snowy, reanimated feet?).

I most often saw the movie described as a horror. There were certainly horrific elements in it, lots of blood, suspense and ultra violence. But really, it's more of a coming of age story. Wait, no, don't run, it
isn't Lost Boys you have my word. It certainly isn't the first movie to use elements of horror to highlight the thrilling, confusing and terrifying experience of growing up. It is one of the first vampire movies I've seen that genuinely highlights the inevitable grief that comes from dating a vampire. I'm not talking about the "oh he's so dangerous and romantic, but he must be bad for me, swoon" type of grief, either. This is the pathetic inevitability that comes from dating an immortal creature.

I rarely get to read or see stories that make much of the old
OCD myths about vamps. Let the Right One In made particularly good use of the idea by making the vampire character attracted to puzzles. In fact, I'd like to take a moment to mention I liked how and what they did with vampire mythology stuff in general. The effect to show what will happen to a vampire if they come in without being invited is very neat and something I've never seen done before.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of children in general and children in movies in particular. Why would I want to use the escapism of film to be around something I'm usually escaping from? But I quite liked Lina Leandersson (who played Eli). I couldn't see her looking at her stage mom cheering her on from the sidelines and she handled a complicated role well.

I dug a lot of things about this movie, the acting, the setting and the staging but something that really stuck with me visually was the make up. A lot of the time to make vampires monstrous they're given bumpy foreheads, giant teeth or (my personal favourite) the big old bat ears. The make up in this was extremely subtle. You knew when someone was otherworldly or when they were a vamp getting hungry. But you weren't bashed over the head with it. The fact that the vampires managed to be monsters without serious prosthetics work was a big accomplishment of the actors, director and make up artists.

Random Thoughts (where I lose some cred): If I may be a bit less of a film snob for a moment, I'm often irritated with subtitles. Not because I have to read them and pay attention to the movie (I learned that trick in high school when I got into anime) and not because I'd rather the movie be dubbed (in dubbing the translation can really put my teeth on edge.) My major issue is being unable to read them in certain sets. If they choose yellow subs, then inevitably we'll be in a yellow room or on sand where I can't see what people are saying. A big non-film related positive note from the movie: having the white subtitles with black outlining the words makes them a lot easier to read. They aren't lost in the snowy ground or dark rooms.

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