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S.L.I.F.F. Review: 'Let the Right One In' - We Are Movie Geeks

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S.L.I.F.F. Review: ‘Let the Right One In’

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Travis:

Move over ‘Lost Boys’… you’re no longer the coolest under-aged vampires. Kiefer and the two Coreys have nothing on Eli! Director Tomas Alfredson has created a masterpiece of eerie vampire drama. ‘Let the Right One In’ is a tale about two young people who create a strong bond out of abnormal conditions. Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a 12 year old boy without any friends in the snow-laden winter of Sweden. Oskar is bullied by a gang of three kids on a daily basis, but he does not fight back. Oskar does however yearn for revenge, but can only muster the courage to retaliate in his imagination while by himself.

Oskar first meets Eli (Lina Leandersson) one night outside his apartment building while imagining how his revenge would play out. At first, Eli is stand-offish, but as the two continue to meet in the dark of night they begin to talk and become friendly. Oskar soon finds himself falling in love with Eli, but she is wise beyond her years and is careful not to toy with Oskar’s emotions. Eli lives in the unit next to his with her guardian, but it’s not entirely clear who this man is at first. When her adult companion’s luck runs out, Eli becomes even closer to Oskar and the truth about her and Eli and her past begins to unfold as delicately as a flower blooms for the first time. The film is so brilliantly written and the young actors are marvelous. In particular, Leandersson gives a phenomenal performance as the strange and quiet nomadic girl who only comes out at night.

‘Let the Right One In’ opens by introducing us to Oskar as he imagines forcing his bullies to “scream like a pig” before he exacts his revenge, followed an introduction to Eli’s guardian as he harvests a meal from a local man. These scene is set amidst a grove of birch trees in the snow, creating a bleak and beautiful landscape like that of an Ansel Adams photograph. The mood is important to the story because for Oskar and Eli, all they have is each other. We get to know our two young characters fairly well before they become closely entangled in each other’s lives. Oskar has become relatively numb on the outside to his being repeatedly bullied, but refuses to tell anyone its happening. Eli finds herself slowly starving as her guardian is finding it more difficult to successfully harvest meals for her. One night she can no longer stand the hunger pains and we witness her kill for the first time and it is an eerie and frightening scene, even though we can see it coming. Leandersson convincingly portrays a girl whose entire existence is in contradiction. She is quiet and reserved until she feeds, when she becomes a raging killing machine. She appears to be young, but she exudes a wisdom and calmness that only comes from experience.

The cinematography is fitting but the score truly accentuates the look and feel of the film, often quiet but always powerful in its subtlety. Special effects really isn’t the term I would prefer to use when describing the scenes of Eli displaying her inhuman traits. Low key but highly effective, these scenes offer just enough of a glimpse of her abilities to reassure us of what she is and freak us out just enough to stay on edge. Nothing in the movie is overdone and the story becomes one of a life that continues beyond death in a recurring cycle of mutually beneficial relationships. ‘Let the Right One In’ is filmed in Swedish with English subtitles. For those of you scared off by this, please set that fear aside. The dialogue in this movie is somewhat sparse, but the language of great acting is at play in full force and that’s a language we all speak. You are truly missing one of the best films of the year (at least) by not seeing ‘Let the Right One In’. [Overall: 5 stars out of 5!]

Ram Man:

The foreign film industry has come a long way over the years. They are now becoming more mainstream and you find yourself almost ignoring the subtitles and just able to watch the film and understand the characters and what they are going through. A perfect example of this is Tomas Alfredson’s ‘Let The Right One In’. The ‘Right One’ is an adolescent vampire movie more along the lines of Romeo and Juliet than Dracula.

‘Let The Right One In’ tells the story of Oskar, a Swedish boy and a loner, who is bullied at school and has no friends. That is, until a mysterious girl named Eli moves in next door. Oskar who dreams of standing up to his foes at school  wielding a knife in his empty room telling the bullies to “squeal like a pig”. I guess he has seen ‘Deliverence’. One evening Eli appears on the jungle gym   to Oskar’s amazement. the two strike up a conversation that quickly leads to a close friendship. Eli not wanting to hurt her friend tells Oskar her dark secret as he begins to unravel her mystery, she is a vampire. She tells Oskar she is 12 years old and has been for a very long time.

This doesn’t phase Oskar, who is able to look past the issue of blood sucking and just see the girl he cares about. The picture painted of a very dark and cold Sweden adds to the enjoyment of this film. Eli’s attacks are like that of a rabid dog, leaping on the victim and going for the jugular.   Another aspect of the film that I really liked was that it was not predictable and the good guys always win in the end. Make sure to find out when this is showing in your local theater and check it out. It is destined to become a classic among horror films.   Let The Right One In is scheduled to be shown during the S.L.I.F.F.   at the Frontenac Theater Saturday Nov. 15th at 9:30 pm. Don’t miss it! [Overall: 4.25 stars out of 5]

Jeremy:

Hyperbole aside, the Swedish film ‘Let the Right One In’ may be the best vampire movie ever. Â  It is definitely the best since ‘Nosferatu’ came out over 80 years ago, but it may even surpass that classic film. Â  It’s smart, funny, scary, everything that makes a horror film an instant classic.

Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist who also adapted the screenplay, ‘Let the Right One In’ tells the story of Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), an unfortunate 12-year-old. Â  His parents are divorced, he is basically an outcast at school, and he is continuously picked on, violently at times, by bullies. Â  Oskar dreams of taking up arms and fighting back against the bullies, but he never does. Â  One night, while out in the courtyard of the apartment complex where he and his mother stay, Oskar meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a young girl who has recently moved into the apartment next to Oskar’s. Â  Eli is not like other girls. Â  She is, in fact, an age-old vampire who is forever trapped in the body of a 12-year-old. Â  Oskar and Eli quickly form a strong closeness. Â  She offers him the strength he finds within himself to finally stand up for himself, and he offers her a friendship she hasn’t felt in years.

Per Ragnar plays Hakan, Eli’s caretaker, who routinely goes out in the middle of the night to drain people of their blood. Â  The film deals, too, with his relationship with Eli. Â  He acts somewhat as a father figure, but you feel that there is a deeper bond between them that goes back long before the film starts. Â  This also gives you a sense of where the story is headed.

Vampire films are a dime a dozen. Â  The shelves of Blockbuster are stacked with cheap, vampire flicks that generally are filled with fake teeth and wall-to-wall gore. Â  It’s rare to find something original and breathtaking in a vampire movie, but we have all of that here in droves.

‘Let the Right One In’ is a film that would have worked perfectly as a coming of age story. Â  Had it just dealt with these two kids and the relationship they form, it still would have been a beautiful story. Â  The fact that Eli is a vampire is a driving force that branches the typical, coming of age story off into another direction, and it opens so many doors that previously have not been addressed.

Tomas Alfredson acts as director and his camer work is magnificent. Â  There are exquisitely framed shots that reveal so much yet not too much. Â  Much of what he shows is just enough for us to get an idea of the things that are happening, but our minds fill in the details. Â  ‘Let the Right One In’ is not a gory film, per se. Â  There are several instances of blood, but, like so many classic horror films like ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and ‘Halloween’, the most horrifying parts of the violence in ‘Let the Right On In’ are what is left to the imagination.

Alfredson handles the special effect in the film incredibly, as well. Â  Most of the effects are practical, but there are a few occurrences of CGI effect that enhance what is shown. Â  Some of these uses of CGI go unnoticed. Â  When we first see Eli, she is standing on top of a jungle gym. Â  She jumps down as she is talking with Oskar, and the way she falls to the ground gives the impression that her body is slowing, almost gliding gently to the ground. Â  It’s such a small change in speed that it may not register, but it’s there.

Later on, Eli and Oskar enter a darkened room, and her eyes are seen glowing. Â  It’s not a bright, neon yellow, but a glow, nonetheless. Â  It’s just enough for you to turn to the person sitting next to you and say, “Did you see that?”

There is one scene, one occasion where the CGI is not used very well. Â  It involves a number of cats, and it is pretty obvious CG. Â  This is the only complaint found in the entirety of the film.

The child actors involved in the film are also unbelievable. Â  Hedebrant as Oskar is such a realistic child, yet he performs the part very well. Â  Lina Leandersson is not a particularly pretty girl, but that is a good thing. Â  She, too, gives the part a realistic feel, and the sweetness she puts behind her part is undeniable. Â  I’m sure when the Hollywood remake comes out, these two parts will be rewritten for pretty people, and that is a shame.

I won’t rant about the absurdity of Hollywood remaking ‘Let the Right One In’. Â  I’ll just say it is a horrid idea, and it’s insulting that Hollywood studios don’t think people are smart enough to enjoy foreign films.

‘Let the Right One In’ is an incredible film, an engrossing story about the darkness within two children and the life-altering wave of events that comes from their bond. Â  It is a horror film about a vampire, but it’s also a coming of age tale about a lonely boy and the strange friend he makes. Â  It’s the kind of film that launches a wave of second-rate knockoffs. Â  It’s convenient that ‘Let the Right One In’ screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival the week before ‘Twilight’ comes out. Â  Not having seen ‘Twilight’, I can’t fully say if it is any good or not, but there is no way it can compare to the astonishing work that was put into ‘Let the Right One In’. Â  If I am allowed a pun, this film puts the stake into all other vampire films, period. [Overall: 5 stars out of 5]

Festival Screening Date: Saturday, November 15 @ 9:30pm (Frontenac)

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