Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist (Screenplay and Novel)
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Storyline: “Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.” IMDB
I am a little confused, because I think I have seen this movie before. It is either this one or it’s American copycat version “Let Me In”. I believe they both came out within a few years from each other. Either way, I remember enjoying the film and story line. It is definitely a new take on the much overdone vampire plot line. Last time I had watched the movie by myself. I was eager to watch it after someone had told me about how good the book was. This time it will be nice to cuddle up with my guy because I do remember that it can be quite scary!
Well I had never heard of this film before and I must admit I am very wary about watching it because it’s a foreign language film (can I say that??). Its not the fact that I have to watch the subtitles or listen to the script in a language I don’t understand (I do believe that’s what is sometimes missing from today’s films is authenticity, the Gestapo speaking in German rather than a dodgy American accent). It’s the fact that rightly or wrongly I associate this with the “Arty” crowd, as I get older I get more tolerant of people but I just don’t want to feel I have to like something because it’s trendy. I guess this doesn’t put me in a good space to watch this, also the cover tells me this is the “best vampire film of all time”, so its got a great deal to live up too…..
Set the Scene
Following the Wrestler and another successful blog post I managed to persuade American Girl to curl up once again and watch this next movie. As you can see our expectations are quite polar so I am quite excited to see who is right and whether it is as good as its billing and position on our list.
Originally the settings on our DVD were incorrect and English voices were dubbed over the characters voices. Brit Boy and I quickly changed the settings so that the movie displayed subtitles enabling us to hear the original voices. If you watch this movie, please use subtitles, it is worth it! Something definitely seems to be lost in the “dubbing” process…
Yes I know…. my masculinity has been put into question by my oversight in the technology department, but in my defense the default DVD setting was for English. American Girl is right, the dubbing process definitely removes a large part of the movies soul, so watch those subtitles people!! Unless you want to be reminded of 70’s episodes of Monkey Magic or The Flashing Blade…. Oh wow, now I’m getting nostalgic, maybe a complete change of direction and a youtube search is needed……
Anyway, back to the movie. This movie is filmed very dark, giving it a constant sense of foreboding. It is always grim and depressing. The male lead, Oskar (played by Kåre Hedebrant), is a bullied and troubled young boy, probably around the age of 12. Kåre plays this role perfectly, complete with his poorly cut hair and awkward mannerisms. Oskar befriends a young girl named Eli (played by Lina Leandersson). who moves into the flat next door with her father. Eli is a hauntingly beautiful young girl, clearly wise beyond her years. Eli and Oskar begin to develop a friendship.
The plot moves along very slowly, it is definitely not an edge of your seat horror film. In fact, I would consider it more of a psychological thriller. There are many dark underlying issues which the film touches on just briefly enough to make the audience feel uncomfortable. What is the real relationship between Eli and her father? Is there incest involved? Why is Eli’s father killing so many local people? Is Oskar a young psychopath himself or is he merely troubled from years of bullying? Why does Oskar’s mum seem completely unaware of the torment her son endures? These are just a few of the questions I found myself asking, some of which were answered throughout the movie, some which were not.
I completely agree this is definitely not a horror film, however I think that may have been an incorrect assumption on our part rather than a mis-leading promotion about the film. Having said that I’m struggling to really remember a vampire movie which is 100% horror, most of them these days have been thrillers at the most. I’m back on a tangent reminiscing about “Lost Boys” now.… I did love the way this was filmed, again watching this in Blu-ray on our nice big TV really accentuates the director’s intent. It wasn’t filmed like a fly on the wall documentary in the way “The Wrestler” was, but it also had a habit of pulling you into the scenes whereby you were a close observer of the action. I guess a bit like Scrooge when he watches his Past, Present and Future unfold in a Christmas Carol.
I am a fan of psychological thrillers. However, after watching this movie for the second time, I found myself not scared at all. In fact, at times I was almost annoyed. There are many early scenes in which Eli’s father is in the process of a murder when something disrupts him in almost a comical fashion. Personally, I don’t want comedy interlaced with horror. Those two elements just don’t seem to go together and it often killed the “scary” mood for me straight away.
I too wasn’t scared but I was disturbed several times, particularly when it came to the bullying of Oskar. This was played brilliantly by Kåre and he conveyed the impotence of the situation incredibly. With regard to Eli’s Dads murderous comedy moments, although not laugh out loud funny they did bring a rye smile to my face (this may be the British Black Humor in me), he too almost exhibited a similar level of impotence as to the situations which were unfolding.
I did enjoy watching the budding relationship between Eli and Oskar develop throughout the movie. Both characters seemed to desperately need each other. There was a real sweetness between the characters. I loved the simple scene where Oskar let’s Eli sneak into his bedroom window and she curls up naked behind him telling him “not to look at her”. And he does just that. He doesn’t look, instead he just lies there in bed with Eli curled up behind him. It showed such a simple level of intimacy between two very dark characters which is such an unusual contrast. Maybe, this is one of the elements which made this movie so highly rated. The constant contrasts involved. Darkness and Intimacy. Love and Hatred. Comedy and Tragedy. Survival and Death.
I think that’s a great point American Girl, this was a very innocent portrayal of their relationship, especially as one can assume that Eli in her vampiral life has been exposed to much more horror and tragedy than young Oskar. I think its a real testimony to the direction that she In fact almost appears more innocent than Oskar in some scenes.
I really enjoyed this movie and although I wouldn’t rush out to watch it again it is another great addition to my library and it has made a lasting impression on me. I find myself sitting here writing this remembering several very memorable scenes and loving the direction and cinematography. I think it’s worth noting that I do not feel compelled to join the art scene and watch Hungarian masterpieces about Cheese making, but I don’t feel threatened by “Foreign language” films anymore and do feel it has allowed me to broaden my appreciation of film in general. This film deserves a place on the list and I look forward to our continued journey.
Overall I think this movie definitely deserves a spot on the list. The acting by Kåre and Lina was superb. Especially considering both actors are quite young and dealing with such dark content. The script, directing, cinematography was all perfect for the tone of this movie. While watching this movie, there were parts which I did not remember at all. I also remember that the ending was quite a bit different from what I could recall from the last time I watched. This caused me to do a little research and I discovered, that originally I had actually seen the American version of this film, “Let Me In”. While I definitely enjoyed “Let the Right One In”, I think I may actually have preferred “Let Me In”. I know this goes against what many of the critics say, and in part I may prefer “Let Me In” because it was filmed with a larger budget. Overall I feel that “Let Me In” went places that “Let the Right One In” did not. “Let me In” seemed to be much darker, and with less of the comedic element. In addition, I felt more drawn in. However, I should mention that both movies are great in their own rights. I wouldn’t pick one over the other, instead, I would suggest to watch both.
Let The Right One In
Let Me In
Maybe we should review “Let Me In” in order to provide an up to date contrast…..
Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough
Tomas Alfredson directed “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” the winner of 3 Richard Attenborough Regional Film Awards: British Film of the Year, Best British Film Star (Gary Oldman), and Best Screenwriter (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan).