14 April, 2009

Word of Mouth: "Let The Right One In" ("Låt den rätte komma in")

"Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire." (IMDB)

The childrens' film, The Little Vampire , where a boy befriends a vampire, always seemed just so very wrong. It was daft and dodges the death thing. Let The Right One In, a new Swedish update, goes for the realism route, although there are some people saying they would let their kids see it. Don't worry, I've already called social services on them.

This award-laden movie, adapted from his own novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, uses vampire lore and has a character who is a vampire but it's not a "vampire film" as such. It has an original story that surprises in places.

Horror without psychological truth is pointless unless you're just a SFX fan and the screenwriter does very well with the characterisation of his leads Oskar and Eli, although he is helped considerably by awesome acting. Throughout we're getting insights into being a bullied kid or a pre-teen vampire, that we might not have thought of but can see it's true. The supernatural elements are grounded in the everyday of human relationships.

Where the screenplay falls down is the psychological truth regarding a minor character. Suffice to say, slightly spoilery, this character berates a eyewitness for not calling the police and then later when he's a eyewitness himself he doesn't call them for no given reason. But he only needed one line of dialogue and everything would have been hunky-dorey. Minor characters have to be just as real as the main characters.

However despite that minor hiccup I still recommend this film, not just for the fine screenwriting and acting I've mentioned but for the photography, design and direction.

As a side note, I was a bit outraged that the UK Film Council started spending money on distributing foreign films as opposed to making British films but this release is a beneficiary of that scheme so I'm eating humble pie and hopefully it will make its way all over the UK eventually.


Scaramanga said...

Just watched this film the other day there.

A thumbs kind of sideyways film for me if i am being honest.

It looked great but I felt that it felt long and slow at points.

I really didn't care for the minor characters who you refer to.

At the beginning he talks about his closest friend. yet we didn't really see him again till near the end. And as you pointed out he didnt really act accordingly either.

There were also a couple of scenes which I just did not get.

But hey...thats just an opinion. It may have just been the mood I was in.

Robin Kelly said...

I think they're valid points.

It's true the tension could have been raised more throughout and that minor characters subplot was the best way to do it as it would have raised the stakes (geddit?)

This is the simple re-write I was thinking would work:

*************SPOILERS*****************That minor character had his closest friend offed and then the same happens with his woman. His desire for revenge would have tied in brilliantly with the boy's desire for revenge.

That's why you don't call the police because you want to kill Eli yourself. But when he confronts Eli, he's just curious and has no weapons with him.

That scene was about Oskar protecting Eli so Eli would later protect Oskar. That scene could have served that purpose but also finished that minor character's story properly and added more depth.

********* SPOILERS END ************* Although it emphasises for me the importance of subplots and minor characters in films and how they can complement the main plot as opposed to just something to fill the time or increase the action.