Monday, February 1, 2010

Let the Right One In - Billups Allen

Suffering and lost among the mediocre wash of terrible vampire narratives flowing like blood from a busted jugular over the past few years is a Swedish horror film called Let the Right One In; the story of Eli (Lina Leandersson), a twelve-year-old vampire, who moves in next door to a boy named Oskar (Kare Hedebrant). Oskar is shy and being viciously bullied at school. As a plot device, you might think this scenario is ripe for a tween moneymaker. But Let the Right One In is not your daughter’s vampire story; it deserves a spot in the canon of interesting horror films produced in the 2000s.

The story takes place in 1982 in a snowy suburb of Stockholm. The setting is dark and foreboding and it takes a while for a few people to process that a few others are missing. In my opinion, that is where a vampire narrative should exist primarily. I don’t mind a certain amount of experimenting, but director Tomas Alfredson succeeds in delivering actual suspense within the parameters of the genre rather than blasting fantastical special effects into absurdist action sequences performed by heartthrobs. The unassuming style of shooting gives the movie a raw and realistic feel. Let the Right One In is dirty, cold and sparse and when someone is killed, the implications of murder are palpable due to well-conceived action sequences. A particularly captivating death scene takes place in a swimming pool and is notable largely due to a tactful use of blood.

Let the Right One In is also interesting because, as a general rule, I don’t like movies that feature kids. But Leandersson and Hedebrant both perform their roles with astounding depth. The two are on screen for a large portion of the movie, and both appear to be very advanced actors considering their ages. What this movie captures so well is the notion that a pre-teen vampire would be a complex character with a range of thorny and irresolvable impulses. The movie explores this notion without abandoning the primary character trait inherent in a vampire. Vampires are scary.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson, 2008, Sweden, 115 mins., rated R) screens this Friday & Saturday at 10pm at The Loft as part of our weekly Cult Classic series.

Billups Allen's interest in writing began composing lyrics for the band Shoutbus and later for the band Corn on Macabre. Lyrical duties led to writing poetry and short stories. Several of his short stories were published in a book entitled Unfurnished published by Florida’s now defunct Schematics Records. Allen currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where he writes Cramhole comic zine, writes reviews for Razorcake Magazine and the Tucson Citizen and hosts a radio show called The Groove Tomb.

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