Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bald Mountain Night 8: Let the Right One In

Each day in October, intrepid blogger Alex Boivin will watch a horror movie. These movies are all new to him and are part of his month-long effort to fill in his gaps in the horror canon. If he doesn't die from fright, you just might get to read about about his exploits in cinema during the Halloween season.

Vampires are a little too omnipresent in America nowadays. Twilight and True Blood are the most obvious signs of the affliction ravaging our collective pop cultural consciousness, but it's a symptom of a disease that's been running rampant through our systems for decades now; look back to Buffy or Anne Rice for more examples of the "vampires as tortured souls" subgenre. Of course, this sappy view of vampires is as old as vampires themselves, so there's really no getting around it for the most part, I would imagine. With the vampire seemingly played out in America (though still showing no signs of slowing down), one must wonder how other countries do the bloodsucking thing: enter 2008's Let the Right One In.

Hailing from snowy Sweden, Let the Right One In is the tale of a lonely outcast named Oskar. Being twelve is not going well for Oskar: he's a child of divorce and is being picked on at school. Friendless and turning more and more towards thoughts of violence (he plots the stabbing of his enemies and collects newspaper clippings from all sorts of gruesome events, namely a series of murders occurring in his hometown), Oskar couldn't have less going for him; that is until he meets another misfit by the name of Eli. By all appearances a twelve-year-old girl, Eli lives in the apartment next door with a mysterious older man, and continually meets with Oskar at the jungle gym outside at night, warning him not to befriend her. We soon learn that Eli and her roommate are responsible for the killings around town: he's her "familiar" (that's what they were called in Blade anyway) and he's in charge of killing people and draining them of blood for her to drink. You see, Eli's a vampire, and like Oskar she's alone in the world. Before long, the two grow closer and closer to each other, young love develops and all that would entail between a boy and a vampire, including the loss of innocence.

Like the first film in this feature, the Hunger, Let the Right One In does it's best to strip away the vampire mythology and focus on the complications to life and relationships brought on by vampirism. How can you love someone when people are your sustenance? Unlike a lot of modern vampire fiction which seeks to establish well-developed and expansive worlds, history, and culture for vampires, Let the Right One In doesn't bother with this. For all we know, Eli could be the only vampire in the world, in fact it certainly looks that way. Let the Right One In is as much about drinking the blood of the living as it is about loneliness and first love. It excels at both.

Final verdict: 72 Congos