Groovers and Mobsters Present: Vampires

 

 

“Let the Right One In” (2008)

“Are you my age?” “Yes. But I’ve been this age for a very long time.”

Twelve year old Oskar is the product of a life of neglect; his parents, divorced, appear to have come to the consensus that neither wants him, and he’s alone in school where he must contend with perpetual harassment and bullying meted out by his classmates. Eli– age unknown– can’t go out in the sun, must be invited into a room, possesses superhuman strength and speed, and has to drink blood to survive. They’re two souls completely unalike (even Eli has a grown-up guardian who “cares” for her where Oskar doesn’t), and yet improbably they’re drawn together and a friendship blooms between the two.

In a nutshell, that’s Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 vampire picture Let the Right One In, a movie that mixes differing parts of innocent childhood love with something much, much more unnerving and disturbing. Yes, this is a film about pre-teens. No, this film is not intended for (MOST) pre-teens. Let the Right One In slow burns its way to a mesmerizingly brutal and unforgiving finale, leaving trace amounts of carnage along the way that serve to cushion the understated and genuinely sweet relationship shared by both child and vampire. Alfredson’s film is quiet, subtle, and still in a manner both alluring and eerie; he beautifully captures snow-capped Swedish landscapes and architecture with the same unflinching eye with which he portrays the violent and unsettling sides of Oskar’s and Eli’s respective lives.

We live in the Twilight era, a time of de-fanged glitter vampires whose sexual desire and desirability receives greater emphasis than their bestial nature. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but part of Let the Right One In‘s worth lies in how it reminds us all that this iconic monster of legend is just that– monstrous. Certainly Alfredson instills Eli with more humanity than the living members of the cast and portrays Eli as being as much of a victim of her own circumstances as those who die to feed her, but his picture not only refuses to gloss over the inherently violent characteristics of the vampire, it revels in them. And ultimately, it’s Let the Right One In‘s willingness to confront and even embrace the gruesome attributes of the vampire myth while making us feel sympathetic to Eli’s plight at the exact same time that irrefutably identifies the film as a genre classic.

(Link here to read the rest of the Groover and Mobster entries!)

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6 thoughts on “Groovers and Mobsters Present: Vampires

  1. Nice little movie that makes vampire a bit cooler than they have been recently. The only problem I have with the film is that it isn’t scary at all.

    • To me that’s not a huge problem; I don’t think the film is trying to be scary but rather atmospheric and tense, which it succeeds at. It aims to be unsettling more than out-right frightening, I think.

  2. Pingback: Groovers and Mobsters Present: Vampires « Andrew At The Cinema

  3. I haven’t seen this yet but have mentioned on a few podcasts that I have a plan intended. I’m going to see Let Me In first. While it does seem to be getting an all around positive praise from critics and bloggers alike, most refer to the original as the better film and therefore I intend to see the supposed “lesser” of the two films first, hoping I won’t be jaded by the superiority of the first film. But nonetheless thanks for taking part in our Groovers and Mobsters this month Andrew. Hope to see you around for more collaborations!

    • Sounds like a good plan to me– I often wonder if seeing the original before the remake taints the remake rather than the remake tainting the original– and I hope to be involved in more collaborations myself! This was a lot of fun.

      • We will be doing a year end one that we’d like everyone to participate in if Andy hasn’t contacted you yet, but I think the November one is full. It’s all in the theme of James Bond!

        The remake/original argument is one that will continue to repeat itself especially with so many classic films being remade planned for the future. Some movies are untouchable and it drives me to madness to think of what they’ll redo for a buck.

        I mean seriously, who the hell is going to pay to see a movie with Katy Perry and Russell Brand? I couldn’t get drunk or high enough. The Money Pit was great because of Shelley Long and Tom Hanks. Utter hogshit!

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