Sunday, October 3, 2010

Let the Right One In (2008)

Everyone seems to be dying over this Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In. The remake is generating buzz for actually being better than the original (and it’s not the first new Hammer movie btw, I thought it was). I finally caught Let the Right One In. A young boy named Oskar living in an apartment complex is constantly troubled by bullies at school. He fantasizes about revenge but never really does anything. A young girl seemingly his age named Eli moves next door and corpses start popping up around the snowy landscape of their neighborhood. Eli, of course, is a vampire and gets her seeming father to drain victims’ blood for her. When he’s caught, the girl has to kill victims herself. She eventually befriends the boy and he starts covering up for her and she starts looking out for him.

This is an alright movie. Maybe I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I found it really slow. It’s two hours but felt like three. I get it – she’s a vampire and is reluctant to befriend anyone as a result, he’s bullied by three kids which is shown in multiple scenes, the boy is troubled by the bullying so he acts out revenge with imaginary bullies in his head. I get it. I really do. So don’t show me 5 or 6 scenes showing me this stuff. What, were they padding for time or something? When stuff does happen, it’s pretty cool, like one woman becomes a vampire after being bitten and these cats attack her which was a neat scene. Then she spontaneously combusts in huge flames when in the hospital as someone foolishly opens the curtains to let in some light. The final scene where the boy finally gets some revenge is cool too, but all of this is few and far between.

I found it amusing that for all the vampire attack scenes (of which there are a few more than mentioned above, and with an appropriate amount of blood), to me the most suspenseful and terrifying stuff was when the bullies torture Oskar every so often. You never really know what they have in store, and when they beat him or whip him with a cane, or when Oskar decides to inflict some pain of his own, it’s actually pretty horrific and a little unexpected, and you shake your head at the bully tactics some kids use even in real life. These scenes were more affecting then the 4 or so attacks that Eli inflicts. Was this intended?? Because it seems like more time and clever editing was devoted to the bullying scenes than the vampire attacks.

All in all, Let the Right One In is serviceable vampire entertainment. You do get a bloodthirsty vamp and more than a few gore shots. But you have to sit through the boy meets girl stuff, which is the bulk of the picture. I’ve seen the relationship between Oskar and Eli described as “terrifying” in some reviews, maybe because it’s two kids with a promise that murder will erupt from their friendship. But for me, I already know that the movie is about that, and the film doesn’t offer anything beyond what you’re expecting from that scenario. As I said, the bullying stuff is probably the most horrifying thing in the movie to the point that when the bullies finally get their comeuppance, it seems fantastical and deflates the suspence of their a-hole bullying tactics. You be the judge.

3.5 out of 5. This will probably be remembered for about a year as a result of the remake, but will flame out soon enough.

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