Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!


-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL


Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN




       With Halloween less than two weeks away, it seems appropriate -- and inevitable really, at least on this blog -- that the next couple of posts turn towards the Horror genre. As cinematic varieties go, the Horror film has a pronounced tendency to divide movie-going audiences -- there’s them that seem to watch nothing but; and then there’s others who’d sooner view a full season of Barney before the latest installment of Saw (and having had the unfortunate experience of sitting through the first one, you might count me amongst the latter...). Truth be told, there’s ample reason for the adverse reaction many people have towards the whole genre: endlessly repetitive plot-lines, gratuitous displays of brutality, acting that’s not merely bad but flatly incompetent -- Horror films have had more than their fair share of these offenses, and more. So when a truly exceptional film comes along that happens to fall squarely into the mainstream of the Horror genre -- but also works as a completely satisfying piece of filmmaking by any standard you might care to apply -- well, understandably it can be a hard sell to those who’ve been burned (Umm... Saw comes to mind again -- don’t see any of the Saw series; you’ll thank me one day...). Which is a shame, since Let The Right One In is most certainly one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far.


       It’s the year 1981 and some villages in rural Sweden are being plagued by a series of seemingly motiveless murders. Coincidently, 12 year-old Oskar is in his first year of high school and, having a hard time fitting in -- answering one too many questions in class to escape the notice of the class bullies. Lonely and frustrated, Oskar keeps to himself -- and on one cold autumn night, while outside on the playground, notices the just moved-in Eli; an oddly reserved and worldly-wise girl of about his age. Eli’s not too interested in befriending Oskar, but is fascinated by his Rubik’s Cube; managing to solve it in record time -- despite never having seen one before. Oskar can’t help but develop a crush on Eli; she seems completely unfettered by her unseen parents, is full of good advice for him and is decidedly unaffected by the snowy chill of their nightly playground visits. Meanwhile, the serial killings seem to be striking closer to home -- and the school bullies are developing a growing dissatisfaction with just pulling simple pranks on Oskar.


       Let The Right One In opens with a nearly silent credit sequence that may have you wondering if the projectionist forgot to turn on the sound system. The screen swirls with a light misting of snow as the soundtrack gradually gains in volume; only to reveal itself as the sounds one might typically hear on any dark wintry night; a light wind, cars driving by in the distance, and snow being compacted by heavy-booted footfalls. It’s an approach the film typically takes to reveal its story -- simple and understated -- with a refreshing absence of screeching violins and cats jumping out of cupboards. Things are simply revealed for what they are -- with the results revealed as being sometimes merely mundane, sometimes truly horrific... It’s worth pointing out the performances by the leads; they’re subdued, spot-on examples of film acting: Oskar (K├óre Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson) simply seem to be what they are -- which makes what scares there are, all the more effective -- and prompts the audience to develop some genuine empathy for them.


       Let The Right One In opens in very limited release shortly; in L.A. and New York this upcoming weekend, then moving on to other major markets like San Francisco, Seattle and Denver in November. A DVD release is planned for some time next year -- and an English language re-make in 2010. Let The Right One In has such a perfect pitch as it is, that a re-make seems particularly superfluous in this instance. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the version to see -- But I'm not overly concerned, dear reader; I trust you to make the right choice...


Next post -- 10/27/08