Saturday, 26 June 2010
Let The Right One In
A read the book, watch the movie Challenge
The story follows the life of Oskar; a skinny, 12 year old boy who lives at home with his overbearing mother. Oskar is horrendously bullied at school. He wets himself almost daily and cannot defend himself against the humiliation and physical attacks of the cruel children who make his life a misery. He fantasises about killing his tormentors. One day, by chance, he meets Eli; a mysterious girl who lives in the apartment next to his. All is not as it seems with Eli and pretty soon they begin a friendship which has far reaching consequences for both of them.
The movie is a masterpiece in my opinion, a truly original vampire story which keeps you guessing throughout. The actors are well cast and the setting is perfect. Some very impressive visuals are on show here and the acting is first rate. The two main actors are only 11 years old and considering that they are very fine actors, they had me totally convinced.
The dialogue is in Swedish with English subtitles which I felt was not just appropriate but also right since the story was written by a Swedish author with Swedish characters set in Sweden using Swedish actors...I have heard Hollywood is planning on making their own version which I don't wholly approve of since it would be almost impossible to improve on this one.
The film is gruesome, there is no escaping that, but not as gruesome as some vampire movies I've seen. Despite being a killer the vampire quickly got under my skin (no pun intended!) I felt sorry for her when it becomes clear she only kills to survive and no other reason.
The main difference between the book and movie (and the most noticeable) is that roughly half the characters are missing from the movie or not developed anywhere near the degree they are in the book. I have read that this was done deliberately to bring the focus of the audience onto the two main characters. I'm not sure how I feel about it as the book itself was very rich and varied however one of my only complaints about the book was that it was a little too long so perhaps removing characters was for the best.
If you have ever wondered what happens to a vampire if they enter a house when they haven't been invited its worth watching this movie just for that scene alone! Powerful stuff.
The book is also brilliant but sadly fell short of the five star mark purely due to its length. It is more than 500 pages and full of many minor characters whose stories we also follow, of course they all interlink by the end of the story but there are definite moments in the book when you think to yourself 'Oh, get on with it'
As you would expect much more detail goes into each character which works well. Its very easy to develop favourites although I had several. Were there too many characters in the book? Perhaps one or two but it still doesn't change the fact that it is a brilliant story.
Lindqvist has (to a modest degree) re-invented the vampire for this movie but not in a bad way. The vampire in this story more resembles what a real vampire would be like in my opinion. Not a dashing, charming Christopher Lee type character with a duff accent and a long flowing cape but a scruffy, smelly outcast who hides away from people and only appears when she needs to feed. When she does feed its not a pretty thing to witness. She doesn't seduce her victim calmly so they comply without a fuss nor does she gently prick their neck with two nice little neat holes. She jumps on her screaming victim before literally tearing their throats open with her mouthful of razor sharp teeth. Not a pretty thing to read I can tell you and the feeding scenes make your skin crawl but that is such a fascinating contrast; the vampire is capable of immense kindness and empathy towards Oskar and yet, at a moments notice, can turn into a terrible monster and murder indiscriminately. Because her feeding habits are so brutally messy Eli is often forced to move home to avoid detection and to have a human companion to help her kill.
All in all a brilliant movie and book well worth seeing even if typically you don't like vampires.
I would give the book 4/5 and the movie 5/5