Thursday, March 5, 2009
I Live Off Blood, Yes...
Let The Right One In - (Låt den rätte komma in)
Tomas Alfredson - 2008 (Sweden, USA)
“Hit harder than you dare,” counsels the seeming-young vampire Eli to main character Oskar who is being relentlessly bullied at school. The film acts upon this advice like a vengeful road to modern relevancy. Is Let The Right One In a vampire film? Well, there are vampires. And this coming-of-age love story with fangs takes care to follow many of the rules that the genre would demand of it. These generic rules, however, manifest into an enchantingly pragmatic narrative that filmmaker Tomas Alfredson adapts, from the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindquist, into a film that works on the levels of metaphor, but fully embraces the reality of its world.
The plot of the two young lovers Eli and Oskar is complicated and contextualized by subplots, including those of Oskar being bullied at school and a father who struggles with alcoholism, while Eli’s vampiric nature is given an added emotional weight by a codependent relationship with a father figure, and an addict-like remorse expressed in the mixture of tears and fresh blood on the necks of slain victims. The film works to spellbind and poignantly disturb throughout with its self-perpetuating violence and portrayal of human relationships always on the brink of being reduced to “predator and prey.”
Through a beautiful attention throughout the movie to snow-laden cinematography and the bloody warmth spilled out upon its exteriors, the film works through the idea of secrets buried, frozen in time in the snow and ice, and the manifestation of the character’s need for connection that so often leaves only the path of bloodshed to achieve this warmth. The film never ceases to indulge the mandated requirements of a vampire film, but the greatest feat of the film is the relevance it manages to situate itself within despite its relentless and fully embraced bloodthirsty nature.