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Monday, December 1, 2008

Vampires, Swedes, and Snow (or, How the Best Teenage Vampire Movie is Definitelty Not Twilight)

Posted by Ezra Ace Caraeff on Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 9:28 AM

let.jpg

Mormon vampires--with their high cheekbones and bedroom eyes--don't have a goddamn thing on the Swedish undead in Let the Right One In. Lost in the art house cinema shuffle, the gorgeous film (currently at the Hollywood Theater) seems to be drifting off the pop culture radar, eclipsed by the more popular fan-fic vehicle Twilight, and harmed by an odd premise that is more coming-of-age story and less a chomp-chomp-on-the-neck Vampire tale.

Much like Wall-E, Let the Right One In is an unlikely love story that is heart-breakingly sad--it does, after all, partially share a title with a Morrissey song with the vampire-friendly line "I'd say you were within your rights to bite"--and absolutely sincere, as it focuses on a pair of emotionally numb 12-year-olds, left to bond late at night in an uninspiring backdrop of a deep Swedish winter. One of the kids "feeds on blood" (the "V" word is only mentioned one time in the film), while the other is a defeated and vulnerable target for bullies. Both are pale, sad, and absolutely sweet when together, somehow making the film one of the more intriguing love stories in years (right up there with the aforementioned Wall-E). The real tormentor of both characters is not the schoolyard bullies, or sunlight, garlic, and a slayer named Buffy, but the crippling loneliness that haunts them both.

And much like some of the best horror movies, the violence in Let the Right One In is deliberately sparse, instead director Tomas Alfredson focuses more on the overlying creepiness that blankets the film, much like the mountains of snow the characters constantly trudge their way through. But when the violence does occur, it's completely brutal, if not a bit over-the-top. This is not a spoiler alert, but when people die in this film, they really die.

It's been 48 hours since I exited the theater, but Let the Right One In is all I can think about. Running through the characters in my head over and over, and becoming obsessed with how this unlikely story about two subjects I'm completely indifferent to--teenagers and vampires--became the best film I have seen this year.

You can watch the trailer here.

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