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Belittling Horror Excessively: Let The Right One In04:21 AM -- Sun October 2, 2011

Let The Right One In

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: This a bleak, stark, quiet, ponderous movie about a bullied kid who meets a girl who's a vampire. Hilarity ensues! That part's not true. At all.

Scariness Type: Er... not at all? There's a little gore, and a lot of unhappiness, but there are no jump scares, and not even really a feeling that a monster is lurking, despite the fact that many people get killed and technically there is a vampire hunting in this town.

Rating: 4/5 Fangs

Good Stuff: There's some thinking to be done here. I have a feeling there's a lot more meaning in this than I actually discovered myself. For a story about a 12-year-old boy, and a 12-year-old vampire girl, the acting is great. That's always a recipe for cheese, but this is deadly serious and except for one really silly scene, never seems to falter. This is not some cheap piece of junk like I'm hoping to see later this month, it's all very high-end and put together. A lot of emotion, a lot of depth, a lot conveyed with just looks and silence.

Bad Stuff: The one really silly scene where CGI cats attack... it definitely could've been worse, but CGI is always so painfully obvious and fakey looking (not that puppets would've been better!), and the whole premise of the scene was rather absurd. Not that it wouldn't be terrifying and painful to have cats jumping on you and biting you, but I think it would be silly to somebody watching! Unless they knew you. Then hopefully they'd try to help. And it wasn't necessary - they could've conveyed the information that scene gives you (which isn't even really information, more like "more evidence of something you already clearly knew") without ever having piles of cats slapped over somebody like a pointy fur coat. To further this issue, not that I need to keep harping on it because it really wasn't a big deal, I'm pretty sure that this scene was the only reason that apartment had a bunch of cats in it. It was that classic cinema element - if you're going to show a dozen cats in Act 1, they better jump all over somebody in Act 3 (that's a film geek joke, nobody gets it).

Okay, I spent too long talking about a cat attack that really wasn't overtly stupid, just kind of silly. The other bad stuff is that this movie is so slow and ponderous and just depressing and bleak. It has no joy, just very oppressive. It's all about mood - incredibly long shots and sad looks with a lot of violins. And regarding the pace, I really think the same story, with the same kind of mood, could've been told in literally half the time. Yes, it might detract a bit from the sheer oppressive feeling, but how much oppression do we need?

Other Stuff: There is almost no dialogue in the entire movie. Many scenes even where you'd expect people to talk, they communicate wordlessly. There are scenes where people ask questions, and the person they're asking just doesn't answer. And the asker is fine with that! Not that it doesn't convey the needed information - that's the thing with this movie. It's about 80% inferred information. Nobody ever says what's going on, or talks about what they're going to do, they just do it, and you see them do it, so you know it's happening. Which I suppose is all you really need.

Artistic Nonsense: I like to make up a silly theme that I find in these movies, but unfortunately, there is nothing silly here. It has sapped all the silliness from me. Rather, I'd like to point out a legitimate theme I see in it! I'm still not really clear on the meaning of the title beyond a few obvious elements which are too small to justify making it the title. But what I did notice was the theme of perpetual cycles. It comes up again and again in the movie, the idea that things repeat endlessly and you can become trapped in them. The entire movie follows that arc, and within it there are others - the cycle of abuse in a family, and the violent cycle of bullying. That's what I noticed, and I felt smart noticing it! Go me!

My Take: So, a good movie? It is... I'm fairly certain this is the most "quality" movie we'll be watching in this review series. I mean this is Oscar material. But if something is really good at making you feel depressed and miserable, does that make it something good? I don't really want to be miserable. If you do, this will work like a charm. It's along the ponderous lines of The Sixth Sense, but there's definitely an uplifting arc to that movie which is completely absent here. This is just hammering on the unhappiness for two hours straight.

In short, yes, it's good. It's high quality and well done. But I think twice is enough in my life to be subjected to this kind of abuse. It's crystallized misery.

Tomorrow, our film will probably also be quite somber and slow... it's Following, the Christopher Nolan film about a guy who follows people. Sounds innocuous enough!
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