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Swedish Vampires rule the film world
Let The Right One In (DVD)
Member Name: Ailran
Let The Right One In (DVD)
Date: 25/04/09, updated on 02/02/10 (295 review reads)
Advantages: Atmosphere, story, incredible acting by the two youngsters
Disadvantages: subtitled (though not a disadvantage in my eyes)
Oddly enough the first thing I would suggest you do if you have any thoughts about seeing this film is to avoid all reviews of it. I think you can rely on most reviews (including a couple of newspaper reviews I read afterwards) to reveal too much and include what is the surprising part about the movie. I hope I will be able to manage to not do this myself but I am not sure it is entirely possible.
LTROI is a Swedish movie and hence is subtitled. It is set in a cold winter in a small town in Sweden. Oskar is a 12 year old boy who is constantly bullied at school, he has no father at home and is very much a mummy's' boy. He has no friends and lives a solitary life with his mother in a small apartment block.
When a man and his daughter move into the apartment next door Oskar keeps seeing the girl outside the block at night, when they both go out there for peace and quiet.
They sit there together and soon start talking, becoming friends mainly because neither has any. She is different like him and is as lonely as him. The two of them can relate to each other more than anyone else they have ever met.
Not long after these new arrivals have settled in mysterious disappearances and brutal murders start occurring, nearly always when Eli's 'father' is out at night. Oskar realises something is going on next door, but what will he do about it... if anything?
Let The Right One In is certainly a vampire movie because, obviously it features a vampire, but it is also much more than that. It is the story of a life in a place covered in white, where snow and cold keep people apart and make feelings of loneliness all the more intense. The nature of the place where they all live seems to lead to that kind of separation from all around you. Only the school bullies and a group of drunks seem to have any sort of group dynamic.
There are two main elements to this that make it a top movie. The first is the amazing performances of Kare Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli. They are both very similar characters, living with an adult that loves them without really caring for them. Both adults are wrapped up in their own problems and the children are left to live in their own worlds with their own problems. The adults you expect to be competent actors, children you are never really sure about how they are going to turn out to be. These two are terrific, never showy, never grandstanding just coming across like two real kids who have found companionship with each other.
Away from the acting you also get to see some beautiful photography and camera work. The depressing blocks that the people call home contrasted by the pristine white snow that is always under foot. The look of the film is superbly done, the whole place looks creepy on its own and that is mainly done by some wonderful lighting that enhances the location. The way the darks and lights are used to great effect makes the whole look of the movie work just brilliantly.
Whether or not it was intended or not you do notice that how Oskar is, at first the person making the footprints in the snow every time he comes out. After he meets Eli and they get to know each other whenever he comes out there is always footprints or paths in the snow. He was the virgin breaking through the virgin snow but he becomes something different. He grows up meeting a friend and, metaphorically maybe, becomes part of the adult world, no longer a youthful virgin.
With Oskar and Eli on the verge of puberty the snow almost becomes a symbol of their relationship.
There is so much to admire in LTROI, even the dialogue is top draw... or maybe that should be the subtitling of the dialogue. Importantly it pulls you into the world that Oskar and Eli inhabit and lets you feel like you are involved in it, not apart from it. The older characters, especially Eli's father, are rounded out and deftly created with their dialogue. The same is true of the bullies, they may have very little screen time but you are quickly and cleverly made to realise what they are like, each one having their own little character traits, shown to you in a matter of a couple of minutes.
LTROI is a film all vampire lovers should see, especially side by side with 30 Days of Night, another snowbound set vampire movie. They have a few similarities but the important thing is that they are two very different vampire movies that have their own unique ways of looking at the mythic creature and would make a unbelievable double bill. This is probably the best vampire movie I have seen in a long time, and a vast improvement on the last Swedish Vampire movie 'Frostbite, which was enjoyable in itself.
Before that though see if you can see it at the cinema, out now April 2009, as it truly deserves to be seen on a big screen.
Summary: The adventures of a Swedish vampire.