Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let the Right One In

So I’m pretty tired of the vampire thing and although I enjoy The Walking Dead on AMC, I’m pretty tired of zombies as well. Isn’t there some other monster we can exploit? There has to be something. Bigfoots maybe? I’d love to see a tween romance with glittery bigfoots.

Let the Right One In is another vampire movie. But, this one is different. It’s not really a vampire movie at all. In fact, it’s quite lovely. I have no doubts that Let Me In, the Hollywood remake released last month, will be scary and totally miss what makes the original so great. I need to see the new one before I make rash judgments of course, but I have a pretty good hunch. Let the Right One In isn’t meant to scare. There are a few spooky scenes and a little blood, but this story is really about friendship. It’s like My Girl meets Nosferatu.

This film was made in Stockholm and it’s entirely in Swedish. Oskar is a boy with an unfortunate haircut and no friends except his mom. He keeps to himself and is frequently picked on by a kid named Conny. He meets a girl named Eli and they form a nice little friendship over a Rubik’s Cube. And so you know, Rubik’s Cube is the same in Swedish.

Eli is a fascinating and complex character. You know from the beginning that she’s different. Although she is 12, she admits to having been 12 for a long time and you can actually see it in her face. I’m not sure if it’s done with makeup or if it’s the actress, but she looks very mature. Interestingly, when she meets Eli she begins to act childish and not sure of herself. Oskar tells her that she smells. Hilarious. But then she worries about smelling nice for him. Oskar tells her that she’s ice cold and Eli wonders if that makes her gross. The complexity of her character is amazing. Young Oskar is interesting as well, but Eli steals the show.

Considering this is a vampire movie, there is some violence. The film doesn’t shy away from the notion that vampires eat people; it’s a fact. There are no vegetarian vampires. To me, the scenes are more beautiful than gory. You might think the part where Eli bleeds profusely is disgusting, but in the context of the scene, it’s a beautiful moment. The attack scenes, which in other films might be brutal in order to scare the audience, are more subtle in Let the Right One In.

Furthermore, the story remains true to classic vampire mythology. I definitely appreciate this. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it old school. If you’re a vampire, sunlight will kill you. It’s that simple.

Let the Right One In is a wonderful little film. It's a refreshing story; heartwarming when Oskar and Eli are together and thought provoking as their relationship develops. You definitely question the lengths you go to for the ones you love. It's also nice to look at. The winter in Sweden is just beautiful, even if there's a little blood in the snow.

3.5 nice vampires

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue

This really isn’t a review - more like a recommendation to horror movie fans. I'm not saying I’m not a horror movie buff, myself. I just don’t like the gooey kind they make these days. I watch scary movies, especially around Halloween, but they’re usually cheesy and dumb. Evil Dead and Freddy Krueger are my favorites. Also, I believe that if a director is talented, he can scare an audience without too much violence. The Shining is a perfect example of that. Movies today have become torture porn and I generally avoid them. I like being scared, not being ill.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a documentary that covers the whole spectrum of the genre, from early monster movies to the ultra-gore we have today. It's a pretty simple film in its composition, but it's quite interesting. It's packed with great interviews and facts I didn't know, which surprised me, since I know everything!

The narration is done by some of horror’s greatest directors, including George Romero and John Carpenter. Wes Craven is missing, but I saw enough of him on my Freddy box set. The directors provide great insight to the themes present in these movies and go way beyond the virginal final girl cliché.

This documentary is also entirely focused on American culture. They compare the themes of each film to what was going on in America at that time. So it’s a great film for history buffs as well. It’s fascinating to see how much war, depression, and the economy play a role in these films. If Americans were scared of something, you can bet Hollywood capitalized. They discuss the effects of international horror on Hollywood, as well, but briefly. This movie is really about America.

So, it’s kind of hard to review a movie about movies but I definitely recommend it. Whether you’re a fan of those old Universal monsters, or if you crave blood and eyeball poking, you’ll enjoy it. And if you watch scary movies just for the gratuitous nudity like I know most of you do, watch for a great unedited montage taken from easily fifty movies.


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