Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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 mysterious 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.

Final Grade: (B+)

1 comment:

Dead Pan said...

I adored this movie and found it fitting that it came out in America around the same time as Twilight. It does everything right that Twilight does wrong.

My only real criticism with Let The Right One In is in the ending. When she kills all of those bullies and rescues him, it just seemed a little to cartoonish, and took away from her struggle with her bloodlust.

It seems like the entire film, she fights the desire to get the blood she so desperately needs, and with her 12 year old immortal age, it fits with her innocence. The final scene seems to take away from that innocence, and while it was nice to see Oskar's bullies get what they deserve, I don't feel that it fit the rest of the film.