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Twelve For A Long Time

October 1st, 2010 · 5 Comments

As days get shorter, nights get longer and All Hallow’s Eve beckons, I can say that I won’t be wandering the streets dressed as Chewbacca begging for candy. What I can’t say is whether or not at my age, horror movies still have any surprises left in them. In the search for originality, it’d be a good idea to start anywhere but Hollywood. For the month of October, I take a trip around the globe to see what’s scaring some of my favorite countries these days.

Let The Right One In (2008)
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel
Produced by John Nordling, Carl Molinder
115 minutes

The wonder of Let The Right One In is that you could remove the vampires, clean up the blood and what’s left would still rate as one of the most potent visions of young love in recent memory. John Ajvide Lindqvist transitioned from aspiring magician to comic to writer producing material for other performers in Sweden. Struggling with a “real” novel, in 2001 Lindqvist began writing about his youth in suburban Stockholm of the 1980s. Deciding that his young protagonist would befriend something terrible, a horror story took off. Drawing a title from the Morrissey tune “Let The Right One Slip In”, Lindqvist’s debut novel was rejected until Swedish publisher Ordfront distributed it in 2004. Appearing in U.S. bookstores three years later as Let Me In, the novel was such a success in Sweden that interest in a film version was avid.

John Nordling and Carl Molinder, co-owners of EFTI, secured film rights and hired Tomas Alfredson, a respected young Swedish director who’d never tried a horror film, to direct. The producers raised a budget of €2.2 million (roughly $2.9 million USD). Building strong word of mouth at film festivals, Let The Right One In opened October 2008 in Sweden, Norway and the U.S. to modest box office but instant cult acclaim. Despite confusion about certain elements in the film, its triumph is how deeply it affects the growing pains of two kids in the suburbs rather than throwing horror at the audience. Tomas Alfredson delivers the goods and then some for those in a vampire mood, while 12-year-old Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson cut right to the bone with film debuts sharp enough to detox anyone hung over on Twilight hype.

In a cheerless apartment complex behind the Iron Curtain, 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) passes evenings with his single mother, fantasizing about revenge while his days include regular torment at the hands of his sadistic classmate Conny (Patrik Rydmark). Withdrawing into puzzles, Oskar bonds with another solitary 12-year-old, Eli (Lina Leandersson) who appeared in the night to move in next door. Eli’s creepy guardian Håkan (Per Ragnar) wastes no time luring a local teenager to his death in the woods. Håkan’s attempt to drain the teen’s blood is interrupted and he has to flee. Enraged at Håkan’s ineptitude, Eli leaves the apartment for a bite to eat, ambushing a drunk wobbling home. After she sinks her fangs into her victim’s neck and drinks his blood, Håkan disposes of the body.

When Oskar brings home scars from his run-ins with Conny, Eli urges her friend to stand up to the bully. Oskar asks her to go steady with him and on the promise that nothing much will change between them, Eli agrees. Attempting an Indian blood ritual with his new girlfriend, Oskar slices open his palm and is met with a response he did not anticipate. With Håkan out of the picture, Eli is left to fend for her own sustenance and selects another barfly, Virginia (Ika Nord). Her meal is cut short when the victim’s boyfriend Lacke (Peter Carlberg) appears. Waking the next day adverse to sunlight and to cats, Virginia sends Lacke in search of her young attacker. Oskar appears to have gotten the upper hand over his tormentor at school, but protecting Eli while she sleeps during the day proves more dangerous.

Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer” average among 25,029 users: 89% for Let The Right One In

Metacritic “Metascore” average among leading critics: 82 for Let The Right One In

What do you say?

Tags: Based on novel · Bathtub scene · Beasts and monsters · Coming of age · Cult favorite · Drunk scene · Femme fatale · Forensic evidence · Psycho killer · Supernatural · Train

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mrs. Thuro's Mom // Oct 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Rachel is ready to see the new version of this movie. She feels the same way I do about the original: it is interesting and there are things about it that we liked, but we didn’t love it like so many other people seem to.

  • 2 A.R. // Oct 1, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I love this movie, personally. Did everything right in my book. Probably my favorite horror film since Audition.

  • 3 Patrick // Oct 1, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I watched it recently, I may just be too used to the quicker pacing of American movies, but I didn’t find it engaging – the winter setting was too dreary, the narrative kind of sparse, sort of interesting without being involving. The swimming pool scene was pretty good. Probably won’t see the American version until it shows up on DVD.

  • 4 Joe Valdez // Oct 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Monica: On Metacritic, Let Me In pulled down a score of 80. That ranks it among the year’s best films and means it deserves a better publicity campaign than its distributor is giving it. Let me know what Rachel thinks. Thanks for commenting!

    Amanda: I’m not ready to watch Audition but we’re aligned as far as Let The Right One In. It was as spooky as Tobe Hooper’s adaptation of Salem’s Lot without any of the cheese. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Patrick: Without the swimming pool scene, I don’t know if the geek press would have been as excited about Let The Right One In as they were. I thought the filmmakers did a great job of balancing killings and what not with the yearning of the characters, but you’re right about the atmosphere and pace not being what we’re used to seeing from Hollywood. For me, that was the novelty. Thanks for commenting!

  • 5 haa // Aug 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    And of course they remade it….ugh. I loved the setting of the movie, its exactly like living in Canada, just this endless dreary winter, it can really get to you.

    it really is like the anti-Twilight

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