Quint from Fantastic Fest says LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is one of the best genre movies of the year!
Published at: Sept. 19, 2008, 9:28 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Holy shit! Fantastic Fest just started today and I’ve already found one of my favorite movies of the year.
Going into LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I only knew that it was getting good word of mouth out of genre fests and that’s it. I didn’t know what kind of movie, what language, any details on plot, visual style or tone.
And that’s what I love about film festivals. I saw it only hearing that it was good and as a result I got to go into the film in a way that is almost impossible for me to do with any other: completely fresh.
So, what I’ll do is start out by saying that LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is a damn near perfect genre film and even go one better in saying it’s a damn near perfect film period. In terms of acting, story, tone, writing, cinematography, direction and atmosphere I think it’s going to be hard to top this film for me for the rest of the fest.
If you want to know more, I will go into detail below, but I strongly suggest waiting to be spoiled if possible. Magnet, Magnolia’s genre arm, has the film and I hope to God they get it out there because it’s awesome.
Alright, you chose to read on. I don’t blame you, I probably would, too, which is why uncovering films like this is rare for me.
Basically you follow a bullied young boy in Sweden who befriends the girl next door. Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a shy boy, a quiet boy and the story is his coming of age. We see his first romance develop with the pretty next-door neighbor, Eli (Lina Leandersson).
At the same time we meet Eli’s protector, an older man who we believe to be her father. He secludes her in the apartment by day and by night he goes out and traps young men. He knocks them out, hangs them upside-down, slits their throat and bleeds them.
We very quickly learn that this little 12 year old girl is a vampire and her father may not be her father at all. They never explicitly spell it out, but I really love what the inference is (can’t go that far into the plot… I’m not horrible bastard).
The heart and soul of the movie is the friendship and romance that develops between these two kids, but make no mistake about it this is a horror film. They treat Vampirism as a real deal. This isn’t romanticized emo Twilight vampires nor is it hickbilly True Blood vampires or monstrous Blade vampires or dull old school Carpathian vampires.
When the hunger strikes it’s downright animalistic. The world is real, so you believe it’s real. The main focus is character from the very first time we see Eli or Oskar. Character, character, character.
Take out the vampires and this would be a fantastic coming of age story, take out the murder and it might get a little more standard, but watching Oskar fall in love and begin his transition into manhood is enthralling thanks to a pair of “for the record books” child performances.
Tomas Alfredson is a director to watch. His visual style is a bit of a throwback in terms of pacing, shot selection and how he collaborated with the DoP. But what really sets him apart from the pack is where he puts the focus on some scenes. When we see Eli attack, for instance. I won’t spoil it, but every time it’s scary, brutal and interestingly told.
The shining example of this point of focus, though, is the amazing swimming pool scene, a climactic scene of the film that would have knocked me flat on my back if I wasn’t already sitting down.
He also avoids obvious CGI. I say obvious because I’m 99% sure that they digitally augmented Lina Leandersson’s eyes to make them bigger than they really are. Maybe I’m crazy and she just has massive eyes, but it struck me in an early, early scene that they altered her eyes much like Peter Jackson did for the Moria Orcs in FELLOWSHIP. I have to find out if I’m losing my mind…
There’s also one heavily CG sequence involving cats that is extremely well executed as an effect (even for me and I hate, hate, HATE CG in horror) even before it becomes flat out crazy-awesome the way it is told. And funny, too.
That’s the thing about this movie is that there is a lot of humor in it, too, but at no point do you ever mistake it for a comedy. The stakes are serious (yuk-yuk-yuk), the world is serious, you care about the characters… in short, it hooks you and doesn’t let you go.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is more than just a great horror movie title, it’s a great movie. I hate to build it up so much because that inevitably leads to disappointment, but I fell in love with this movie today. I have no doubt it’ll place highly in my Top 10 movies of the year. If you're attending Fantastic Fest, this one should be of the highest priority. It screens this Saturday (at 6:30pm) and again next Wednesday (at 1:15pm).
Got tons more on the way! Keep ‘em peeled for my continuing Fantastic Fest coverage!