Believe it or not, I'm still gonna try to finish last year's reviews. We'll see how I do.
Lagging so long on this particular review was probably the worst act of sloth in the bunch, because I should've been encouraging everyone to see it while it was still in theaters. AC did when she wrote her review back in January, and now that it's readily available on Netflix I'm hoping Let the Right One In will be to Horrorthon '09 what The Orphanage was to last year's.
So everybody go see it! And by "go," I mean... to your house!
In September 2008 JPX, Mr. Finger-on-the-Pulse, got me all excited when he posted this link to what turned out to be the great trailer among a bunch of stupid ones (as I discovered looking for this on YouTube. Wrong mood, spoilers, all kinds of idiocy.) So I recommend you hit that link for this specific trailer, just like JPX did last year...
Isn't that cute? With the little Shazam and everything?
For me the first great thing about this movie is the setting: some suburb in Sweden in which winter is just a relentless accumulation of snow. No blizzards or anything, but the sides of the roads and walkways are just heaped with what you know are several layers of shoveled-to-the-side snow, none of melting any time soon. There's a shot in the trailer of a body being lifted out of a pond by a crane, and the corpse is embedded in the thick icy crust that was on top of the water. It's freakin' cold. And for those of us who have lived in freakin' cold, the memory of that crisp oppression blends perfectly with the beautiful, mournful style of the film's cinematography.
It's smart, and it brings a great interpretation to the composite vampire myth (especially in the scene that the title refers to *shiver*). It features bullies getting their just desserts, and that's always sweet. And it's wonderfully, desperately human -- particularly with the minor characters that don't always get special treatment.
One pair of deft scenes that stuck with me: Our hero Oskar is visting his father, and he goes to his dad's sweater hanging on the back of the chair. With a wordless look asks his dad if he can wear it, and with the slightest of nods his father says yes. It's such a tender and real moment. On a later visit, Oskar and his father are playing a game (Oskar's wearing the sweater), and a friend of his father's shows up and they get drunk. And there's no big scene, his father doesn't get angry or hit anyone, he's just chatting with his friend -- but it's clear that the evening is just ruined for Oskar in the most devastating way.
All this is woven together with a chilly little horror movie that's got a good nasty bite. I really can't recommend it enough, if you would please ignore the fact that I waited 332 days to say so.
I should point out this post, which mentions some regrettable differences between the original English subtitles and the ones on the American dvd. Countering that is the point that AC made in her review that there's actually not that much dialogue, which is something I'd forgotten for some reason.
The reasons I didn't give this the big fat five stars was 1) it has been almost a year since I've seen it, and I would like to recollect it better before lauding it that much, and 2) the one thing that kind of bugged me about it, which was an overuse of close-ups. Nothing criminal, but it's like Sweden was just discovering what the French realized in the 60's, and watching them do it I felt awkward for them. It was very "foreign film," if you know what I mean.
Anyway, everybody has to watch it or I'm sending the napalm monkeys after you.