Fuck Anne Rice.
Seriously, fuck her in all her newly Jesus-saved orifices. It’s her fault that the vampire genre has devolved into the overly romanticized muck that it currently is. The whole gothic, holier than thou vampire tale has been done to death… no pun intended. You really think that vampires could get off with dressing the way they do, taking in servants and dancing away the night in goth-techno clubs? Is that the price of immortality? Fuck that, then. Worse than that, it’s led to the pussification of the modern vampire, as seen in sludge like Tru-Blood and the upcoming Twilight.
The only vampire stories that ever appealed to me were the more realistic ones, the ones that treated them as creatures, or as survivors. Near Dark. Habit. Cronos. Hell, even Martin. This is a cold, hard world we live in, and a vampire wouldn’t get very far flashing its fangs and drinking blood from wine glasses.
Having said all that, Let the Right One In is probably far and away the best vampire movie you’ve ever seen in years. It’s a bit of a sleight to even dismiss it as a vampire movie, in fact. There’s just so much more to it.
The film revolves around young Oskar, an emotionally disturbed 12 year old boy. The pale, scrawny kid is constantly picked on by bullies at his school and at night he dreams about murdering them and how great it would feel. He collects newspaper clippings containing serial killers and horrific murder scenes, and keeps a knife tucked in his coat that he hopes to one day use. This is a kid on the edge, a few steps away from his own personal Columbine. It isn’t until a girl (Eli) moves in next door that he finally finds someone to talk to and be normal with. He finds a friend, and a potential significant other… with someone who shares his loneliness and isn’t put off by his thoughts of violence.
She’s also not human.
That’s about as much as you should know about the story. You can assume that it’s not a happy tale, and that it dwells on the burgeoning relationship between these two individuals. The most amazing thing about this film that is if you took away all the vampire elements, the violence and blood and gore, this would be the sweetest, most heartwarming story you’ve ever seen. It still is a remarkably sweet love story, really; it’s just incredibly horrific as well. After all, Eli’s life involves around death in ways that Oskar only wishes his did.
You wouldn’t think the two very different genres could meld so well, but it does. Some people will not enjoy this movie for this fact, though. On one side, the violence is pretty intense, but the film is slow and thoughtful and takes a while to get there.
The violence is shocking and disturbing, hitting you at just at the right moments to throw you off guard. The sound only helps contribute to the feeling. While there are the typical musical riffs that blast out for a perfect jump scare, the movie uses silence in such a cunning way. Some of the most uncomfortable scenes use lots of bodily sounds, growls and groans and creeks that hint at hidden urges and feelings. It all adds to the amazing atmosphere. Despite the horrifying sections of this film, it’s not like it doesn’t have a dark stream of humor. There’s a couple of scenes (hint- look to the one major use of CGI) that are just hysterical, and a nice respite from all the horror on display.
One other thing that’s notable is that for a movie that’s so visually stark (it’s hard not to be since it’s set in a snowy town in Sweden) the characters are all shades of gray. There’s only one really despicable character here- everyone else is doing what he or she does for a reason. Whether it’s right or wrong is up to you but everyone’s got good intentions (or simply survival) on their minds. The film’s also got a bit of a timeless quality to it, even though it’s obviously set in the 80s. Besides a Clash poster posted up on a wall and people listening to record players (people used to play music on large discs made of vinyl, look it up on wikipedia, kids) there’s really nothing to place this in any time.
Simply put, this is a beautiful and amazing achievement in film. It hits on every single emotional level, and there’s nothing to even compare it to.
I know that sometimes it’s hard to appreciate a movie that’s been hyped up to impossible levels, and with both Devin calling it a masterpiece and Tony Timpone telling everyone before my screening that it’s not only one of the best horror movies this year, but one of the best of all time, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. It did, easily. You will not be able to get this movie out of your head, and I can’t recommend it enough.