Monday, June 29, 2009

Let The Right One In (2008)

Forget Twilight.

If you want adolescent vampire love with hutzpah, you want Let The Right One In. It's a Swedish film, taken from a Swedish novel that I am SO buying and reading.

Set in 1980s Stockholm, it tells a tale of budding romance between lonely kid Oskar and just-as-lonely vampire Eli. Oskar is a 12 year old boy who lives with mom and step dad, and is the resident punching bag for various school bullies. Next door, in moves Eli, who looks* like your standard skinny 12 year old girl and only comes out at night. Since 12 year olds don't live alone, she's accompanied by her "Dad", who has some night time peculiarities of his own. Hmmmm.

So, things between Oskar and Eli start out a little thorny (girls having cooties and all), but quickly smooth out - first, into a nerdy little friendship and then into a nerdy little romance. A chaste one, since they're only 12. Along the way Oskar figures out his sweetheart is (ahem) undead, which causes no small wrinkle in the relationship, but eventually young love prevails. For a while anyway.

The movie puts a cool twist on the usual vampire mythos in that Eli, being about 12 when she was turned, is stuck with not just a forever 12 year old body, but a forever 12 year old brain and mindset too. So rather than the wise adult mind in a kid's body that's generally portrayed with child-vampires, she's an immortal 12 year old with typical 12 year old thoughts, along with added wisdom from having been around for several hundred years. (Besides, an all-grown-up-vampire would hardly be interested in a 12 year old mortal. Except as a snack, maybe.)

Violence also gets an unusual treatment (for the genre). The movie definitely has it's righteous share of vampire violence, but it's understated by almost always occurring off screen or at a distance. Playing it that way (rightfully) keeps focus on the relationship stuff between Oskar and Eli, and also keeps the film in atmospheric-creepy-mode, rather than turning it into just another (yawn) gore-fest.

Well. What more can I say? Tons, but I don't want to give away too much of a great story. Suffice it to say this one is not just a Watcher, but a Go-Right-Out-And-Buy-It Keeper as well. I've got the film and novel both, right on my Amazon Shopping List.

And, lest you worry that Let The Right One In is just a Swedish knock-off of Twilight, both the novel and film were published/released before their Twilight counterparts, proving that Let The Right One In rules while Twilight drools.... I was totally unable to not type that. Weird.

Anyway. Better hurry and see it - they're already planning a Hollywood remake. Sigh.


*I say "looks like", because (I later learned), in the novel Eli is a castrated boy. And while the film keeps things more ambiguous - Eli asks Oskar if he'd still like her if she wasn't a girl and later says outright that she's "not a girl" - this could easily (even likely) refer to her not being a 'human' girl. A later scene has Eli changing clothes and we see a quick flash of... something. Apparently a freeze frame of the something shows not a vagina, not a penis and scrotum, but scarring where a penis and scrotum would be. I don't know this firsthand because I sent the DVD back before I read up on all this. But an interview with the film's director confirms Eli is a castrated boy and that the screenplay originally had some back-story on it, but they chose to downplay it for whatever reasons.

(How's THAT for a curious tidbit?)

The American Site

Ye Olde Trailer

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