Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let the Right One In

Year 7, Day 300 - 10/27/15 - Movie #2,185

BEFORE: My BFF Andy recommended this film to me a few years back, so I'm watching it tonight to prove that I do take suggestions, but it just takes me 3 or 4 years to get around to them.  OK, maybe 7.  Anyway, this is the 4th film in a row from that notorious "Before You Die" list, so it's recommended by  several sources - and the original Swedish version, not the American remake "Let Me In".

In fact, there's been a notable Scandinavian theme running this week, with the Norwegian actors seen in "The Thing", and then Swedish actor Max von Sydow in "The Exorcist".  But this goes toward making my linking nearly impossible - even if I link back from Jack Nance to Max von Sydow, I'd have to point out that von Sydow was in the film "Skammen" with Axel Düberg, who also appeared in "Kärleken" with Per Ragnar. (or if you prefer, von Sydow was in "Made in Sweden" with Gösta Bredefeldt, who was also in "Män som hatat kvinnor" with Pale Olofsson)  It's ridiculous, I won't do it.  I guess I should have known that watching a foreign horror film would more or less bring my linking chain to a dead stop.

THE PLOT:  Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

AFTER: In fact, I had two choices on how to watch this film - I had put the subtitled version on a DVD with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", but the dubbed version was also available on Starz on Demand.  I chose the latter for the sake of convenience (so I wouldn't have to get up from the chair and put the right DVD in the player) but chances are that I may have chosen poorly.  Sure, subtitles are sometimes hard to watch and demand my full concentration, but dubbed voices allow for improper translation and non-synched mouth movements.  

But the basic story is still the same - a young Swedish boy is befriended by what appears to be a young woman, but she's not what she appears to be.  So this fits right in with my overarching theme this week, which is all about evil horrible things taking over or corrupting human bodies.  There was the alien creature in "The Thing", then the demon Pazuzu taking over Regan MacNeil, then we had whatever that "Eraserhead" baby was.  Tonight it's a modern take on the classic vampire story.  

In a way, this also riffs off of Kirsten Dunst's character from "Interview With a Vampire", who had been bitten when she was a young girl, so since vampires don't age, she was destined to be a little girl for a very long time.  Our young vampire child here also isn't really sure how old she is, she just know that she's no longer a child, but a very blood-hungry creature.  But just because she feasts on human blood, that doesn't mean that she can't have friends, right?  Or do vampires just naturally regard all humans the way we normally think of cows and chickens?  

This film also proves what I was saying about zombie films last week - it's possible to tell a good story while still respecting all the rules about movie monsters.  Vampires can fly, they can't be seen reflected in mirrors, and they can't enter someone's house unless they're invited in - hence the enigmatic title.  But there's also a double meaning in it, since Oskar needs to be very careful about who he lets in to his life, when so many other kids in his class seem to be out to humiliate him.  

Eli, the young girl with a secret, also has someone looking out for her, a man acting as her father, though he may not really be that, who kills people out in the woods and drains them of their blood so that his (adopted?) daughter can feed without doing the killing herself.  This seems well-intentioned at first glance, but really, is that any different in the end?  Meanwhile there's a quartet of local friends who are left wondering why they're not a trio.  Wait, make that a duo.  Oh, this can't end well.  

The more modern aspects of the tale consist of a strong statement against bullying, and possibly some gender identity issues as well.  But that's cool, Sweden's a pretty liberal country, right?  And if you can't be androgynous or a vampire and be accepted in Sweden, where else are you going to go?  I guess maybe Brooklyn, NY or Portland, Oregon.

Also starring Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Ika Nord, Pale Olofsson, Peter Carlberg, Mikael Rahm. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 attack cats

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