December 1, 2008

Is "Let the Right One In" really the "Twilight" killer?

Let The Right One In
Magnolia Pictures

Oskar, with a K, has problems. His whole 12-year-old life has been plagued by the bullies, and he doesn't seem to have the guts to fight back. Perhaps, he will, but for now, he only fantasizes about it. That is, until she came.

Meet Eli. New in the neighborhood, she meets Oskar during one of his fantasizing sessions. Soon enough, they develop a bond, yet in every day that passes by, there seems to be someone who dies.

Oskar discovers something vampiric about Eli: she hates the sun, she doesn't even shiver in the lightest of garments despite the cold Sweden snow, and she likes blood. Oh, she just isn't vampiric anymore, she is indeed a full-fledged vampire! Oskar doesn't mind, and looks at her as his first love.

Shockingly enough, this movie has a plot extremely similar to Twilight. Even more shocking is the fact that both have a lot of things in common: vampires, blood, cross-species romance, and the fact that both movies are book adaptations! Go figure. But where do we draw the line, you say?

Well for one thing, Twilight is strictly bound by convention- modernised teens speak slang, do "cool" stuff, fight like hell, and play... soccer. OK, maybe that last one wasn't conventional, but come on! Everything you'd typically expect in flicks like Twilight has mostly likely already been done. On the other hand, Let The Right One In isn't bound to any rulebook, besides the "common symptoms a vampire can have" rulebook (and then some), and makes a shining standard upon the tiring, dying genre of horror-romance flicks. Hell, the film doesn't even have to depend on the two characters' love affair to keep the story going (as noted in another review)!

But perhaps, it would be unfair to say that Twilight is even a horror flick in the slightest, but you just can't ignore the plot similarities can you?

Let's move on from the inevitable Twilight comparison (since if I boycotted it, the issue would still arise regardless) and onto the real deal. Is Let the Right One In worth the watch and the critical acclaim or not?

Well, I have to agree that there is a bit of originality showing through despite the fact that the topic of vampires is already a road that gets tread too much. I mean, the way the film conveys its story is different, to say the least, and there are some pretty chilling moments in between.

I mean, it's not as scary as the critics make it out to be, maybe not even scary at all for some, but the thing is, it doesn't have to. It lets you connect with the characters which is the primary factor in maybe any movie. Heck, even the victims are shown their backstories and when they eventually get killed, you feel sorry for them. 

However, you also feel sorry for Eli, because unlike other vampires who grin every time their hunger for blood is satisfied, she feels remorse and regret. Seriously, if you were turned into a vampire and you had to be forced into murdering others- even your caretaker- to satisfy your own hunger, would you actually feel happy? It just makes you ponder as to why that's the stereotype. Additionally, the actress they picked for this just has piercing eyes, and she looks so innocent, it's creepy.

It transcends the genre even further by making the antagonist nothing more than another mere 12-year old. A mortal. Not like those lame vampire trios that come out of the blue in the middle of a football game (I promise, this is the last Twilight reference I will mention in this review.), or that long-lost powerful brother who wants revenge. Heck, that 12-year-old doesn't even resort to over-the-top antics. He's just your average next-door bully.

Speaking of 12-year olds, it kind of makes the whole Let the Right One In-Twilight comparison ironic, eh? I mean, isn't that the same demographic that Twilight aims to tap?

Of course, after immediate viewing, one wouldn't actually feel as if the film deserved any of these awards, you know, overrated? It's deceptively simple, but once you digest it, it becomes food for thought. It treats the audience intelligently, and its storytelling is intriguing and a breath of fresh air. Most importantly, there's emotion and complexity within the characters (one of the qualities I usually look for in any story), and their performances can move and unsettle. Let the Right One In deserves a watching, but you may at first doubt its status of being a classic until you sort out your head a bit.

Rating: 9.3/10 (Here's to hoping the American remake is just as good. Although I doubt it since this one is already a tough act to follow.)

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