Candleblog

The online journal of Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon.

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Let the Right One In

Posted on Oct 25, 2008 by billsimmon in filmmaking | 0 Comments

Cross-posted at the VIFF blog…

I’ve just returned from a showing of Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) and it really got under my skin. The feat of genre-mixing that director Tomas Alfredson has achieved is nothing short of miraculous.

First off, this is a Scandinavian coming-of-age film in the tradition of My Life as a Dog and Fanny and Alexander. The film is even set in the early eighties, when those films were made. It is charming and funny, snowy and quiet, touching and sad.

But this film is also a grizzly tale of disturbing horror. That the writer and director were able to tell a fresh vampire story at all — the genre having been all but completely drained of life in recent years (pardon the pun) — is impressive. But this film is inspired cinematic fusion.

The vampire genre has been mixed with just about every other kind of film I can think of. Without even clicking through to IMDb, I can think of vampire/westerns, vampire/police procedurals, vampire/high school angst films, vampire/road movies and vampire/sci-fi movies. But vampire/Scandinavian coming-of-age films? I hadn’t thought of that. Touché, Thomas Alfredson.

The poster for this film lets you know you’re going to see some blood, but I almost wish they’d kept it a secret and marketed the film as a straight Swedish tween drama. The mood of the first part of the film doesn’t belie its trajectory in the slightest. The sense of realism that imbues the filmmaking is so stark, that when the first of the few digital effects in the film appeared, I almost didn’t notice them. They’re like little droplets of muted color in a monochrome painting.

Despite the horrific trappings, the film’s central relationship, between a 12-year old boy and the strange new pale-complected girl who moves in next door, is surprisingly sweet. The film is going to stay with me a while, I think.

I didn’t intend for this blog to be a place for film reviews, but I was surprised by this one and had to tell someone! Luckily, it’s playing again at the Palace 9 Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:50 p.m.

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