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Let The Right One In

Alluding to the notion of a vampire is unable to enter a house unless invited by its owner, Let The Right One In’s title masks a much deeper story.  Exploring love between two adolescents, it taps into the coming of age genre with considerable skill.  Coupled with serene vistas of Sweden’s Stockholm, its unique allure creates a compelling atmosphere lasting until the final reel.
Shuffled between his divorced parents, twelve year old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) feels like a lonely outcast.  Bullied and ostracised at school, his existence is brightened by the arrival of Eli (Lina Leandersson).  Glad to have the company of someone his age, their friendship develops into a surprising romance.  When a series of savage killings occur, Oskar’s curiosity about his new companion is spiked when Eli divulges her true lineage.  Revealed as a vampire, her ongoing bloodlust unexpectedly shines a new light upon their troubled souls.
Rarely does a movie successfully blend horror and romance in one enticing package.  That Let The Right One In does it very well is a testament to its quality.  With Oskar and Eli both shunned by their peers, their reliance on each other draws out issues both have tried to avoid.  Her weakness against her inbred nature versus his lack of courage against his aggressors slots in easily with the normal anxieties the journey into the teenage years bring.  These elements are impressively conveyed by the leads bringing believability and maturity to their roles without overstating the story’s occasional obvious points.
Unlike others in the ‘romantic vampire’ field, it isn’t afraid in showing the bloody ferocity driving these beings.  Even though most of the horror is implied, the aftermath of Eli’s rampages starkly reminds of the beast living within her innocent shell.  That Oskar still accepts and values her companionship shows the fluid nature of friendship can form the unlikeliest of alliances.  Capturing a bleak snowy Swedish landscape, Director Tomas Alfredson utilises its background to his advantage by mirroring its harshness against the strange world his characters inhabit.
Drawing out genuine intensity from a fine cast whilst juggling a myriad of complex themes, Let The Right One In is remarkably effective.  Elegant in its love story but disturbing in its horror, this is a great genre film the like of which should be made more often.
Rating out of 10:  8

Fast & Furious

After the mediocre response to its last outing, the Fast and the Furious franchise appeared doomed.  However when desperate times call for desperate measures, an eager producer’s limits knows no bounds.  Recruiting its original stars and returning to the first film’s flavour, the mega bucks this fourth entry has already generated vindicates the old maxim that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 
Continuing his dodgy dealings in Central America, wanted criminal Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) receives a nasty shock.  Learning his girlfriend has been murdered, he follows a deadly trail leading to the doorstep of notorious druglord Braga (John Ortiz).  Also on Braga’s trail is FBI Agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) who, assigned to arrest him, sees the chance to settle some old scores.  Clocking a mileage of revenge and redemption, both men zoom full throttle towards achieving their own desired quests.
These films are almost like its characters - defying you to criticise them.  As a willing paying customer you know what to expect and that’s exactly what you get.  If you want loopy plotting, risible dialogue all mixed with macho men, hot chicks and fast cars then this is the place.  Fast and Furious is shameless escapism at its best and it knows it - and all the more enjoyable for it.  Directed with great energy by Justin Lin, each frame is painted in broad comic book strokes with the goodies and baddies wearing gangster bling with pride.  Pleasingly there is a bit more to chew on plot wise this time as the dynamics between the leads continually change between being friends and foes giving events more dramatic weight. 
It’s generally the car racing fans want to see and there are loads on display.  Of particular note are the opening and closing stunts effectively bookending events with a tunnel death-race a novel twist.  Diesel and Walker slip into their roles with ease and are given their moments to shine, with Diesel increasingly becoming the new Arnie with his barrel chested mumbler eagerly swatting the bad guys.  The decent CGI work is another bonus although thankfully the stunts are mostly done ‘for real’ making them more exciting.
A typical current example of presenting bare bones action with little story, Fast and Furious is entertaining nonsense.  Breathlessly announcing a fifth entry upon this one’s huge success, its producers must thank their lucky stars that four wheeled demons are just as much in vogue as the ones Marlon Brando rode in similarly themed rebel flicks over fifty years ago.
Rating out of 10:  6