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Horror > Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Hello friends, I've been away from the forums for a few weeks trying to finish my home theater...and going a whole 7 days without watching a film! Now that the room is finished and equipment calibrated, I'm back to watching and writing about (hopefully) interesting films. Phillip wrote about this one in the horror forum and it was the debut Blu-ray in the Korova: this would have made my Top Ten List for 2008 if I had seen it in time...it's that good.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson, 2008, Sweden) Oskar’s troubled life is like Rubik’s cube, its many permutations seemingly unsolvable until he befriends Eli who bleeds tender mercy…and violent hunger. Director Tomas Alfredson crafts a gentle coming of age story tinged with archaic bloodletting, as Oskar and Eli slowly form a mutual bond of trust and love, both outcasts who haunt the periphery of reality’s penumbra. Their relationship builds slowly while we experience a few gruesome murders: young men captured and bled like cattle, the thick rush of life force collected into a plastic container. A rip current of angst and mischievous horror lurk just below the surface tension, as we discover our dark eyed heroine stalking a darkened underpass, feeding upon unwary strangers and spreading her infection. Eli is in the care of a sadistic father figure: though never explained, there seems to be some incestuous affair as he murders to quench her cursed hunger. Oskar is being bullied at school, and it’s Eli whose reserved passion gives him strength to finally take a stand, to fight back and no longer become victimized. But this tangled web of horror begins to unravel as the neighbors discover Eli’s freakish secret, and together Oskar and Eli must escape to a new life…or undeath. This is a beautifully shot film that relies on characterization and pacing without need to resort to CGI or flash-cut editing: the few images of horror are quite shocking and the true fear is in the soft animal sound of Eli’s growling thirst and her struggle to master this supernatural instinct. The mystery deepens in the depths of a swimming pool: suspended in his watery grave and lungs slowly filling with certain death, a ripple of salvation lifts him back into life. Oskar has finally found his niche, and carries his love in a heart shaped box to an unknown destination…towards a better (a certainly bloodier) future. (B+)


message 2: by Daniel (new)

Daniel This was one of my favorite films of 2008. I found out (here on Goodreads) that the book it's based on was translated into English and went out and got that. I'm proud to say that when the Boston Society of Film Critics met, we named it best foreign language film of the year.

Anyone who likes *intelligent* horror movies will find this a rewarding experience.


message 3: by George (last edited Mar 20, 2009 07:23AM) (new)

George | 951 comments Finally got a chance to see this and found it very likeable indeed. Although, Alex, I reacted very differently to the adult taking care of Eli. I didn't see him as a father figure at all. I think once upon a time he was probably another 12 year old, and Eli has chosen Oskar as his replacement, and I think he finds it difficult to grow old while Eli remains ageless. He was clearly jealous of Oskar as the story progressed. The two leads were well chosen. Very worth watching.


message 4: by Daniel (new)

Daniel It's not clear in the movie but in the book the old guy is a child molester who finds an outlet for his perversion in being allowed to serve the vampire. He had only been in a service for a few years.

Your theory is more along the lines of the vampire movie "The Hunger."


message 5: by George (new)

George | 951 comments ah well. I'm not familiar with the book at all. Haven't seen The Hunger for many years, but maybe it influenced my perceptions anyway. thanks. too bad though. I liked my interpretation better.


message 6: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I felt there was some strange sexual attachment between the "father" and Eli so it's interesting that the novel supports my theory...but George, you're point is very good because it is subdued and vague on the screen: I like your interpretation too!



message 7: by Phillip (last edited Mar 20, 2009 03:18PM) (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments i think the ending of the film gains some bittersweetness with george's interpretation...that one of these days oscar will find himself aging and no longer able to protect her. but yes, i read the book as well, and the author intended different meanings. i think it is a credit to the film that this aspect was left a bit more open to interpretation.


message 8: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 85 comments I have read the novel and truly enjoyed it! Now I'm just waiting for netflix to send me the film. I'm glad that it seems to be one film adaptation worth watching.


message 9: by Phillip (last edited Mar 22, 2009 02:45AM) (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments absolutely. i really like what he left out from the book. the director stays mainly focused on the friendship between oscar and eli, and that just opens up all this good character study... you get less airtime for the multiple subjects but you gain more emotional depth (with the central characters), which is what so many horror films lack these days. and it's just SO beautifully filmed - you want to resist blinking....


message 10: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments This reminds me of a Gus Van Sant film..if he made a vampire flick:)


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 85 comments Oh Great I love Gus Van Sant!!!


message 12: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 66 comments George wrote: "ah well. I'm not familiar with the book at all. Haven't seen The Hunger for many years, but maybe it influenced my perceptions anyway. thanks. too bad though. I liked my interpretation better. "

I thought that was the story too. Haven't read the book but the idea that Oscar is replacing the old man added to the beauty of the film when I saw it. I thought it was a cycle, that we were essentially seeing Oskar's future in the old man. I guess that makes the movie even better as it opens things up to interpretation



message 13: by George (new)

George | 951 comments Well, perhaps the director and screen writer intended to reinterpret the book a bit on this point, but I don't really know.


message 14: by Steve (new)

Steve | 957 comments Watched this DVD last night. Haven't read the book, but I really enjoyed this. I like movies that depict childhood in a surreal/fairy tale way. (For some reason, I'm reminded of Victor Erice's SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE.) I appreciated that it's more about weird childhood feelings and friendship than it is about, well, vampires.

Beautifully shot; the stark nighttime outdoor scenes are etched into my brain now!


message 15: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments exactly, the vampire motif seems there to illustrate what it is to be human, in the realm of relationships. i loved this film.

i also really enjoyed Spirit of the Beehive, and recommend it to anyone who's interested.


message 16: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 123 comments I adored this film. I bought it sight unseen because I just knew I would love it. The relationship between Oskar and Eli is one of the sweetest relationships I've seen in a while. Kind of a frightening thought, really. But it was just so well done. Those kids were fantastic. Especially Eli.


message 17: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments word.


message 18: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments here's the review i posted back in november on the horror group. just wanted to share...i think it's amazing this film is still garnering a lot of discussion.

**********

Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)


I know a lot of you are waiting anxiously to see this film and I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’m going to try to write about it without seeping SPOILERS all over the place. I'll give you the set-up and talk about some themes and results.

First of all, I REALLY liked this film. I’m a vampire film fan. I know not all of you are, but that doesn’t really matter. This is kind of an anti-vampire film, or rather, it doesn’t have that much to do with vampires in the usual way. It doesn’t uphold many of the vampire clichés (which is a GOOD thing!). What it does really well is use the vampire identity as a device to explore what it is to be human. I know that’s not wholly groundbreaking in the vampire genre, but I think this film does it in original ways. The principal themes that the movie posits are trust, loneliness, isolation and friendship, exploring it all in the context of a broken family.

The main character of the film is Oskar, a skinny blonde-haired 12 year-old boy who is coming of age - trying to figure out who he is and how he’s going to survive in a somewhat hostile environment. Like all cute, rock-stars-in-training (he looks like he will be trying out for the next big Swedish black-metal band in five years) his gentle and sensitive ways fall prey to a few of the local bullies at school.

Enter Eli, the girl next door. She moves in one dark night (remember: it’s Sweden, where the nights are LONG) and emerges the next evening on the playground outside the apartment building where the kids live. Oskar can tell right away that she is different and he is intrigued by her sly manner and intelligence (she picks up his Rubix cube, not knowing what it is, and solves it in a few seconds). He eventually asks her to go steady. When Eli asks him what that means he admits he doesn't know.

The rest of the film allows the viewers to watch this tenuous friendship develop into something both kids eventually depend on for their survival. As I said, this film has a lot to do with TRUST. Both kids walk a tight-rope of what and what not to disclose to one another. They both have varying degrees of shame and pride they must tend to, and they are both lonely human beings at the brink of their sexual awakening.

The film exhibits a beautiful visual sense. For the most part, red is the only earth tone that stands out in an otherwise light blue, ghost gray, pale green, vanishing yellow, and every-shade-of-white color scheme. The photography presents the images softly, which reflect gracefully the tender feelings that pass between the two children. The pace holds a slow-burn simmer of suspense throughout, with a few hitchcock-inspired flashes of fear and terror.

Let The Right One In is recommended to all on this list. The acting is outstanding, you really feel you know these kids by the end of the film, and you don’t want to let them go when the credits start to roll. There is one avenue the script explores that could have been left out (or minimized), but apart from that it's a near-perfect contemporary horror film.

In Swedish, with English Subtitles


message 19: by Sam (new)

Sam | 548 comments Phillip wrote: "here's the review i posted back in november on the horror group. just wanted to share...i think it's amazing this film is still garnering a lot of discussion.

**********

Let The Right One In (Tom..."


Phillip - you rock at reviews mate - thanks for that!



message 20: by Phillip (last edited Mar 25, 2009 02:58PM) (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments thanks boss. i only tend to write about films i love, so it's an easy task.


message 21: by Sam (new)

Sam | 548 comments I've just seen this movie (can you believe it's taken all this time to come out in the theatres here - surely we're not that far away) ...

after all the discussion so far I only have one word to add ... fanf#@%*$gtastic


message 22: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments i'm so glad you had a chance to see it, sam!

that's pretty much my assessment.


message 23: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta I am #5 in the library queue - FINALLY - I have been waiting for what feels like forever. So excited to see this. Will tell you all how much I loved it (as I am certain I will) next week or so.


message 24: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments enjoy!


message 25: by Mawgojzeta (new)

Mawgojzeta Watched it last night. Loved it.

Before I forget: enjoyed the extra where it was explained how the area had changed from the 1980s to now - little things like that are interesting to me. Also, how the movie was trying to portray the world the way that Oskar would see it - that adults were there but not really paying attention.

I am sad to hear rumor (fact???) of a USA remake. I just cannot imagine Hollywood during justice to the feeling created by this film.

I am also very excited to read the book.

I don't want to even hint at the ending, for those who have not seen it, but I will say it left me pondering for quite a long time the future of these two.










message 26: by Phillip (last edited Jun 08, 2009 11:16PM) (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments Yes, I've heard that an American remake is in the works. That is more horrifying to me than any horror film I can think of. The worst fear I have is that they are going to be more faithful to the book towards the end, which sports kind of a big splash ending that resembles typical horror films from Hollywood. I really respect the director for the parts of the book he left out.



message 27: by F.R. (new)

F.R. | 15 comments I saw this film this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought that the performances from the two children were superb, and the the patient pace of it not only fitted the snowy landscape but differentiated it from the standard Hollywood fare. (Shudders at the thought of Hollywood remake).

Looking at the points above, my assumption when Eli and the man arrived was that he was her father. Then of course he fails in his murder attempt and she berates him, thus showing she actually has whip-hand in the relationship.

Just one point somebody can maybe answer for me - when/where is it set? It seemed to be the 70s/80s in time, but any idea when? As for where, it's obviously ostensively Stockholm, but a Stockholm where Comerade Breznev is quoted on the radio as if he's in charge, and the drunks discuss the brain washing techniques in Moscow. Is it some alternate Sweden behind the Iron Curtain or did I just miss something there?


message 28: by Mawgojzeta (last edited Jun 10, 2009 12:25PM) (new)

Mawgojzeta In the extras the director stated it was taking place in the 1980s. If I remember correctly he also commented that during that time period the country was 1/2 behind the Iron Curtain (in mentality, I think???)


message 29: by F.R. (new)

F.R. | 15 comments Thanks Mawgojzeta.

I guess that's a mental state, as I don't recall Sweden being part of the USSR.

It makes for another intriguing point in the film though, and it's a film that has a lot of moments where you say "What the Hell?" I know it's a more minor point but it all adds to the unsettling atmosphere.


message 30: by Phillip (last edited Jun 11, 2009 03:12PM) (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments Well, Sweden was a socialist state at that time...true, it wasn't a member of the USSR, but it was a socialist system. The block-style apartment buildings are a clue to the desire to build dwellings "for the people".


message 31: by F.R. (new)

F.R. | 15 comments Some would say Sweden still is a socialist state, I doubt it was ever that communistic though.


message 32: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments it is...but the system has changed in the post-glasnost era.


message 33: by Ceci (last edited Nov 01, 2009 08:02AM) (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Sweden was never a socialist state, and neither was Finland. This is as common as misconception as there being polar bears in either country. Still, I suppose the word "socialist" means a different thing in the U.S. than it does here in Europe.

That being said, the movie's a lovely one... dark, sad and beautiful. The scenery reminded me of my own childhood in a suburb in Finland, in the 1980's... I was twelve in 1986. It's all so familiar. The girl, Eli, looks like she'd be from an Eastern European country, perhaps from Transilvania. I saw the old man she lived with as a pedophile from the start... All the adults in the movie are horrible, and most of the kids, too. But the bittersweet romance of Eli and Oskar casts a magical light over it all. Imagination is the best weapon against the horrors that are all too real.

This film is so much better than the much-hyped-up Twilight. Now, there's a horror! *shudders at the books and the film*


message 34: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments not arguing with you, but the writer and director talk about how the film was set during socialism...and they're both swedish...watch the making of featurette; they discuss it.


message 35: by Ketutar (new)

Ketutar Jensen | 1 comments Yes, and Swedes will be asking a "fack"(safety box in Swedish) for their precious items in hotels and so on and so forth.
In Sweden "Socialism" means about the same what labor party stands for in UK and what Democrats in USA are doing. In USA "Socialism" is about the same as "Communism".
Sure, we have things that are seen as pure Communism in USA, like stately health care and strong union (also "fack" in Swedish), but it's not even close to what was happening in for example Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia. That kind of Socialism has never happened in Sweden, what ever any Swedish person says.


message 36: by Ceci (last edited Nov 03, 2009 01:40AM) (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Ket, you said it. Sweden was NEVER EVER socialist in the sense that for instance the Baltic countries were. Both Finland and Sweden have always been capitalist countries. Trust me on this. I've lived next to Sweden all my life (35 years) and studied Political Science. My parents have lived anf worked in Sweden and I have visited the country several times. It doesn't matter one bit what someone says during the featurette. It was probably a mistranslation anyway.

This is soooo frustrating... Intelligent people talk about Finland or Sweden being socialist, and that there are igloos and polar bears here. For God's sake!!!


message 37: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10778 comments none of this really changes what a beautiful and moving film this is.


message 38: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Very true. It is lovely.

And as for the buildings, well, you can find blocks of flats like that also in London, for instance... It's simply affordable housing for people. I have lived in a flat in an apartment building for most of my life, and live in one even now. It's easy, cheap and urban. Nobody here lives in a trailer, on the other hand... now, that would be weird! I guess it's just the difference between European and U.S. culture, not so much a question of politics.

Both Sweden and Finland have always been neutral politically, never part of any military alliances, either, not Nato nor the Warsaw Pact. I like the neutrality. :)


message 39: by Sooz (new)

Sooz so much as been written about the story and the characters that i really have nothing to add. everyone who has previously posted obviously thought as highly as i did of this gem from last year.

i would like to comment on the wonderful camera work, as well as lighting and sound work used in the out door scenes. i lived for years in Northern Ontario and this film captured winter like no other i can think of. the blue of the snow as the sun is going down. the crunch of boots on hard packed snow. the breath that hangs trapped - frozen in time - for a moment before dissipating. the light of a sun that never seems to reach the apex of the sky before it begins to sink again.

this is probably my favourite film of last year - and i've not seen anything this year that compares with it. but i am patient. and optimistic.


message 40: by Atlas (new)

Atlas | 22 comments i had really anticipated this movie everyone told me it was going to be good then i watched it and i dont get why anyone thinks this movie was any good at all. huge let down. the one redeeming characteristic was that it was cool to see a vampire movie about children not teens or adults.


message 41: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments It's not an easy watch but I still think it's masterful.


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