Let the Right One In

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Let the Right One In is a cute movie in relation to the horror genre. Given that it’s pretty gory in itself, that is beside the point that the movie drives home. The central monster that the movie plays with is the vampire, a monster of charisma, power and tremendous affect.

The vampire, unlike the cheapened iterations of it in recent trends in films, is a monster characterized by its appetite for human blood. The horror on a natural level being that the vampire presents a clear opposition the cultivated lifestyle we have where we are the modern-day top predators. This threat to the dynamics of powers to the natural order of things is further deepened by the fact that the vampire presents itself as further empowered version of ourselves (i.e. looking human). But beyond that, the movie also classically plays on much of the mythological baggage that the vampire operates on like the fact that they can only be invited into a home and not come inside without consequence, or that they burn in the light. The movie titular basis is the former of those two, and an interesting aspect to play upon in the movie.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across any kind of monster that was so polite as to need to be invited in before it can disturb your life in your own abode. The act of letting in a vampire, of letting in a horror, is unthinkable even if you knew they were one by common sense. It’s strange how the vampire is framed as something that respects or rather is bound by certain rules of conduct. But in a way, the issue of space and the vampire is kind of like the say way that the realization of horror penetrates our understanding. We only understand it the moment it has entered our realm of reference and understanding but the moment it has done so, the moment it takes that step inside, which we let it, it has power over us.

The movie presents a skew on that though. The way Oskar lets Eli into his house and even into his life; he subverts that and internalizes the horror into his life. Oskar leads a life where he is almost powerless. The disturbance that Eli brings his life is that it opened him to the realization of his weakness and his inadequacy. It’s interesting that to some degree that Eli is a sort of parallel, not unlike a mirror, by pointing out the exact things he lacks. The element of horror, once inside our space of the sacred and is internalized, reveals to us our own unconscious desires. The dynamic of coexistence with the horrible is one marked by reflection on, among other things, knowing and understanding that we are that powerless and capable of being so in the face of greater natural forces. As a means of fortifying ourselves against horrors there is a need to learn to accept them as well, almost like a means of vaccination against greater sources of horror.

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Let The Right One In

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One of the elements that make up what many people consider to be a horror film is the music and sound effects. Directors often use a combination of these, together with well-timed silent pauses, to build up the tension in during particular scenes, and increase the emotional impact on the audience. “Let the Right One In”, however, is a story of silence. Couple this with wide camera angles and a winter time setting, and you’ve got an unconventional vampire story that revolves around a boy and the mysterious, pale-skinned girl that lives just around the corner.

“Let the Right One In” is definitely a horror film, and it’s worth the watch because it does things so differently from the run-of-the-mill movie industry churn-outs. Beyond the fact that it satirizes the Girl (or Boy) Next Door love story, it is also a slightly different take on your typical vampire-ridden romance. Oskar, the main character, is by no means a remarkable kid. Eli is, at first glance, the farthest thing from today’s contemporary sexy vampire. The two of them build a relationship through a series of strange chance meetings, with a combination of understated domestic encounters on Oskar’s end and brief, chilling and fragmented scenes that establish Eli’s backstory together with her caretaker cum father figure and ex-lover. It is refreshing to see, as well, that the vampire mythos used in “Let the Right One In” is a return to the basics: she is a vampire that can only come out at night, is damaged by fire and sunlight, and has to be invited inside a room in order to come in. No sparkles, no frills, no overpowering strength or abject, contrived displays of her vampiric power. With her, what you see is what you get – at least until her newfound friend is put in danger (and that was an excellent pool scene, by the way).

On that note, it might not be too far of a stretch to say that “Let the Right One In” is a film whose biggest strength is its premise on the minimal, the simple and the traditional, made “new” only because of the fact that it is set during our time. Furthermore, every piece of it is tied together seamlessly, making every moment, right down to scenes where it simply shows one of the characters walking, important. Everything in the film attempts to establish one’s sense of isolation versus the growing intimacy between Oskar – a human being – and Eli, a (for the lack of something less dramatic) monster of the night in the shape of a girl. As previously mentioned, the fact that she is different from Oskar is shown quietly, in the small details that establish the difference between her and her neighbour. He has to bundle up and keep out of the snow; she walks around in it without any shoes on. He can walk where he pleases; she always has to wait for another to expressly invite her inside. He can break and bleed; she can rip people apart with her bare hands.

If there could be a genre specifically for “quiet” horror movies, “Let the Right One In” would belong to it. In an industry full of the overblown and the bloody, the shrieking and the disgusting, this film stands out specifically because it doesn’t need any of that in order for you to feel that familiar chill down your spine and sit back in your seat to breathe.

Not a Girl

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Move over Twilight and let the right one in! While I admit that I initially thought to this movie either to be a demonic possession or a serial killer movie (of which my speculations both failed), “Let the Right One In” captured my attention for its excellent manner in developing its characters and for showing a dark yet humanistic perspective of the vampire.

Oskar, a bullied boy growing up in a broken family, finds himself having a new neighbour: Eli. Essentially reminiscent of Michael from Halloween, Oskar turns to Eli for friendship and treats her as his only friend even if he later finds out that she is a vampire thirsting for human blood as required for her survival. Eli, on the other hand, does not seem to complain about her being a vampire, although she obviously does not kill people unless it is necessary.  Narrowing down the differences, both Eli and Oskar resemble each other in a variety of ways. First, both of them are outcasts of society, Eli being of another kind while Oskar is bullied by his peers. Both of them also strive for love and acceptance, with they find in each other. Lastly, both of them can be seen as monsters in their own ways. Eli for one is a vampire while Oskar constantly longs for a violent way to get back at his bullies – especially when we see him bringing around a pocket knife in his jacket. These similarities between the two characters make us understand why the two go along together very well, giving us reason to understand deeper their personalities and motivations.

“Let the Right One In”, like any other horror films, also plays on gender stereotypes. Eli, who is a girl, is the one on the surface portrayed to be the monster. More than this, however, it is also worthy to point out how Eli accepts her monstrosity, making Oskar like her for who she is rather than for who she is not. One of the striking phrases that Eli uttered, “But I am not a girl” as she was talking to Oskar captures the essence of the monstrous feminine of Barbara Creed. Yes, Eli is not a “girl”, a girl who is labelled by the patriarchal society to be weak, feeble, demure, and conservative. She is more than a girl, a monster for who she is, essentially because she breaks down this sexual barrier set by men. Effectively, the monster in Eli is haunting because of her power being able to kill and “castrate” men from their dominance.

Another striking point in the film is how there seems to be a reversal of gender roles between the Oskar and Eli. While Oskar, complemented by his long blond hair and very feeble physique, is portrayed to somehow be feminine, Eli, with her strong body and even foul odor at times, is seen as very boyish. This becomes very important in the movie as Eli, the girl, becomes the knight in shining armour rescuing Oskar, the damsel in distress, from his bullies.

The movie also presents to us a real-life counterpart of the horror monster in Eli: the bullies of Oskar. It is very much interesting to point out how she, as mentioned above, only seeks blood to satisfy her thirst and survival, while it looks like the bullies of Oskar, and even Oskar himself, constantly quest for blood for nothing at all and just for the sake of it. Paradoxically, we, the audience, suddenly see ourselves rooting for Eli for her ability to incapacitate the real life monsters of Oskar. This gives credit to the fact that Eli is far more capable than being a girl. As mentioned earlier, she is more than a girl.

“Let the Right One In” is definitely one of the good horror movies out there for it does not rely on loud sound effects and surprise scenes to show horror. On one hand it gives a unique storyline and on the other hand it effectively builds up on the characters of Eli and Oskar that make us, the audience, feel more embedded in their personalities. This enables us to go deeper into the horrors of the story, especially at knowing their unconventional personalities and capacities. In the end, the movie, for me, also successfully show how real life horrors parallel fictional horrors, especially at how the monsters in the horror film merely reflects the real society we all live in.

 

 

The Last One In!

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Let The Right One In is the last movie of our semester. A bittersweet ending, with a beautiful movie capping off the semester of learning about a great genre in movies.

The final movie was like a class of Euro Film combined with Horror Film, I think the movie was nicely made, the music, the camera shots were spot on to convey what it wants to show. The development of the characters was very well done, with Oskar and Eli’s relationship really shining throughout the film. Also beautiful is the relationship between Eli and the man who helps her get some blood. There’s a big dilemma that is apparent in the man, and we aren’t really enlightened on why he is helping Eli. We see a gruesome murder committed by the man and from there you could sort of tell what Eli really is. I can’t shake away the scene where the man is trying to get blood from a boy in a locker room, and he knew there was no way out so he just hid in the other room with the acid. I just found that scene beautiful for some reason, and of course the intention noble.

Of course comparisons are going to be made to Twilight, saying that this movie is a kids edition, along with same quotes like “I’m __ years old… I’ve been __ years old for a long time”. But comparisons to a teen mega hit shouldn’t take away anything from this movie given that it does tell a great story in a beautiful way.

It takes a lot from the usual sense of what a vampire is, what it brings to the table is probably a somewhat unique innocence that only a “12 year old” vampire can bring. As much as she wants to be normal, she isn’t. It made me think when she told Oskar, that he hurts the bully because he wants to, but Eli hurts others because she has to. You feel for her because of her innocence and that she’s in such a tough situation. It is as if she just wants to have a normal life. When she sees Oskar one time and is offered a Rubik’s Cube it is as if she saw it for the first time, and she just wants to play with it like a normal kid, not a blood-thirsty vampire.

I like how it is sort of a nice culmination for our class, because though it seems that having such a horrific side like being a vampire would hinder from building a friendship with Oskar, it didn’t. The conceptual scheme was indeed changed such that they could live together without harming each other. Just like Oskar and Eli, horror movies are in our lives but just because they are different it doesn’t mean that we should shy away from them or be afraid of them so much that we stray away. We can be afraid and still try, just like what Oskar did with his friendship with Eli, of course it is scary to be with a blood-thirsty vampire but they still fought to understand the situation that they are in and in the end worked together. Horror is something that we may be afraid of but once we experience it and try our best to understand the situation we can find out that is an art that we should cherish.

L.O.V.E. E.V.O.L.

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I have always thought about how the perfect example of a human/vampire relationship, is, well, Buffy and Angel. The grand scale of how their relationship was treated in the show was perfectly captured. Oddly enough, their relationship was deemed as the most human. And so when Twilight (and a slew of other vampire/human/creature love stories) came about, I was a sheepishly turned my head away from them, because I knew they wouldn’t give me what the Buffy/Angel story did. Then, I found out about a movie called Let the Right One In from Bloody-digusting.com, and it seemed different, so I decided to give it a try.  

To say that the movie is your average vampire love story is in many levels an understatement. For one, the characters don’t really do stupid things out of their love for each other, and even if one might say that they do, these objections can easily be countered by the fact that they were children at the time that the story takes place. For me, the title is twofold. One meaning might be literal, because as the myth goes, vampires cannot enter a household without having any verbal invitations. The other meaning has something to do with Oskar, and how he feels isolated from his peers. Granted, Oskar does not really have any friends. He doesn’t let people in his life easily, because he has developed trust issues. So when Eli comes into his life, he changes drastically. He learns how to fight for himself, and he learns how to stand on his own two feet. 

The only thing that scared me a bit in the story is my realization that Hakan, Eli’s former “guardian”, isn’t really her guardian, but instead, one of her former lovers. He is keen in keeping Eli alive, even at the cost of his own life. This, while implying the sheer force of the feeling of love, leaves one dark possibility for Oskar: when he ages, he may become just like Hakan, obeying Eli and sacrificing his life for hers.

In a subtle sense, I think that this movie also deals with the concept of love perfectly. There is a scene in the movie wherein Eli is changing her clothes, and Oskar decides to take a quick peek and finds out that there are stitches where Eli’s genitals should be. He ignores this, and continues their friendship. Now, I might be a little over my head here, but I think that the filmmakers wanted to tell the audience that love really knows no genders, and that people, no matter what their age may be, are capable of love. 

 

 

 

Still A Better Love Story Than Twilight

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Let The Right One In revolves around the relationship between a young, sweet boy named Oskar and a very innocent-looking, peculiar girl named Eli, who turns out to be an old vampire. Oskar lives with his mother and only from time to time visits his father. He was frequently bullied in school by a group of boys who kept on teasing him to be a “piggie” (which makes no sense because he is quite thin.) He always practiced stabbing using a knife, which was always with him, and reenacts situations when he was bullied, as to somehow prepare for revenge. He met Eli during one of those practice days and he somehow found interest in her, although she acted and smelled strangely. They clicked immediately, became friends, and at one point went “steady.” Håkan, the older man who Eli lives with, plays a significant role in the vampire’s life as he obtained blood from random civilians and delivered them to Eli. In the end, Håkan voluntarily gets bitten by Eli after getting caught by the police. Eli leaves town for she grew too fond of Oskar and she was afraid he might be her next victim. Though, the last scenes show how their relationship stayed alive when Eli saved Oskar from the bullies by ripping their body parts apart. Due to his love for the vampire, Oskar goes away with Eli.

When the film ended, I can’t help but to think that, like many of my classmates did, the story was so similar to Twilight. Though, for me, it’s better. First and most obvious reason is that the characters are much more admirable with both their appearances and acting skills. It was also quite different from other vampire movies that I’ve watched because the characters are very young. It was also able to tackle issues such as bullying, separated family, self-realization, and unconventional relationships. One more unique aspect is that, apparently, invitation is a per-requisite for a vampire to walk inside rooms and build relationships from friendship to love. This makes it so much better than Twilight, because of uniqueness, and also I found it quite creepy for Edward to easily enter a girl’s room and stare at her all night.

I really liked the character of Oskar. There’s something strange about him that made me more interested in the film. The environment that Oskar grew up in obviously contributed a lot to his behavior and attitude. Growing up without paternal guidance hindered him from building a strong and fighting self-esteem, thus making him vulnerable to bullies. He was also very fond of this town murderer, who might be Håkan, that he collected newspaper articles about all the killings that took place. I think that although Eli was the strange one in nature, Oskar was strange in the psychological sense. He was quiet for his age, and he spent a lot of his time alone before meeting Eli. I think this unusual behavior has made him more willing to be with Eli, even if she was not a girl as she always emphasizes. Oskar didn’t have anyone around who accepted him wholly. Although, when he hit the bully when he was about to get pushed, his father was more gentle and understanding, Oskar still was not able to vent out his inner grievances to his father. Only when Eli came to his life was he able to open himself to another person. The interest he had for the murderer was also an indication that despite being quiet most of the time, he had anger and vengeance within him that eventually came out when he got the confidence brought about by Eli.

Eli changed Oskar’s life dramatically, but I think that it was not love that made her so thoughtful in the first place, it was just in her nature to manipulate human beings to follow her wishes. Oskar might just turn out like Håkan later on. I have this theory that it was not about the relationship that Eli went back, it’s that she needed him to live more like a human than a supernatural being. It’s actually a reciprocal relationship, but it’s more damaging on Oskar’s part for he had more chances of living a normal life without Eli but he was too afraid to indulge in the normal for all the experiences he had gone through in it. Despite this friends with benefits kind of notion, I still think that their relationship was so adorable that I find it to be better than Twilight.

Though, I did not quite feel the horror in the film aside from having a vampire as a character. But I guess that horror is not all about the scare factor.

(LOOK HOW MUCH THEY’VE GROWN: http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/66292299.html)

Playing With Your Food

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My interest for vampire movies has been quite damaged because of the sudden take over of the Twilight movies. I’m not saying they were terrible, it’s just that I was not quite impressed by what they had done with the vampire character. Let The Right One In on the other hand, as much as it has a tinge of  romance, actually hit the spot. The monster was maintained throughout the entire film and the other themes of the story such as mystery and romance had not suppressed her monstrosity, which I think is a good thing, because Twilight turned vampires into pseudo-x-men that shine in daylight.

On account of Linda Williams and Barbara Creed, Let The Right One In was also able to twist the female gender category effectively by reversing the damsel in distress role through making the monster a girl. Not even a woman, a girl. A character that in most cases, is tender, fragile and prone to weakness. Although they made the girl the opposite of what the gender category groups her in, Eli somehow maintained an air of weakness behind her vampirism; she was still only just a girl and she was lonely. As the movie progressed, she grew into liking her next door neighbor, a boy named Oskar, who seemed to have been emasculated because of the fact that he was always bullied and his father was not around. Eventually as the two met and their relationship had blossomed, they each filled in their own gaps. Though Eli was a vampire, Oskar was able to look over this and remained her friend throughout the ordeals that she went through in the movie. Even as Eli went on a feeding frenzy, Oskar stuck with her and gave the ‘girl’ side of Eli the attention that it needed. So even as Eli was seen as a monster, she was able to be a girl at the same time. Eli on the other hand, was, in a sense, able to give Oskar the ability to overcome his over-submissiveness and become a ‘man’ and fight back. So with what started as playing with her ‘food’, which is what Oskar is as a matter of fact, Eli and Oskar ended up having a mutual, giving relationship. Let The Right One In was a good movie, in my opinion, because it was able to retain the sinister nature of vampirism, blood and supernatural elements at the same time turn the typical female role around from damsel in distress to monster and slide in a little tenderness that can only be found in young love.