Monday, February 16, 2009

Let the Right One In

People have been telling me to see the Swedish vampire movie for the past 3 months. 'What, you haven't seen the Swedish vampire movie?! You have to see it! Why haven't you seen it!?' Do I seem like a girl interested in Swedish vampires? It was confusing for me too.

So yesterday, after a seven hour brunch (yeah, a seven hour brunch), we rolled out of Kate's Park Slope apartment and took the train into the Angelika to give it a go. It was between The Classe, which I still need to see, and the Swedish Vampires. Vampires it was.

Now, even though I knew that this was a vampire movie, I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for the vampire aspect. I'm not used to gore. Plus, I don't know if there is a way to make vampire movies not funny, because if there is any believable setting for blood-feeding, bright and snowy Sweden is it.

The cold, harsh crunch of snow lends a startling and alluring backdrop for pale skin and deep red dripping blood. It all works until someone combusts into flames or arms are ripped off and thrown into water. Then it just becomes a little funny.

That said, this film isn't about vampires at its core. It is an old tale of school bullies and overcoming obstacles and falling in love. The protagonist is a prepubescent boy whose interactions on the playground rival a Lord of the Flies hierarchy. Its about courage and loyalty, love and fitting in. But in this Swedish love fest, its a young girl who comes to the rescue of dear Oskar. David is rescued while attempting to throw stones at Goliath... for in the reality of schoolyard duals, David can only be beat.

Because of its young viewpoint, the story held our fascination at a very naive and lucid state. We are reminded of Bridge to Terabitha in the fragility of both characters in the big world they are up against. But instead of fantasized demons and kings, Oskar and Eli face actual hunters of blood and soul. Eli's world is a dark reality and Oskar barely blinks.

As in most modern day vampire stories (I've seen a total of maybe 3 in my lifetime, so I may not be the best source to make such grand comparisons, but here I go) Eli feels a tremendous guilt and shame for the blood she sucks. You would kill to kill she says to Oskar, who holds a transfixed interest in murder weapons and bloody newspaper clippings. I kill because I have to live.

Our heart breaks for her because its supposed to. She doesn't want any of this. But she has to eat. I hear ya, girl Don't we all? :)

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