Monday, October 27, 2008
Twelve For A Long Time
It was a pretty sizable crowd at Skylight Books in Los Feliz on Saturday night for the reading of the excellent collection “The Book of Lists Horror” hosted by my good friend Scott Bradley, the person also responsible for the book. There was definitely an impressive assortment of contributors but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the single biggest thrill of the night was getting to meet Ann Magnuson, there to read her own list of “Twenty-Two Sexiest Movie Monsters (Human and Otherwise)” and exactly as cool as you'd hope she'd be. I have no great point to make here beyond saying how fantastic it was to meet Ann Magnuson but it was a very enjoyable evening all around.
The reading of these lists and everything they signify came during an appropriate weekend for me, not just because Halloween is approaching but because the night before I had seen LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, a vampire movie from Sweden which for me was one of the most potent, affecting films of this genre—hell, of any genre--that I’ve seen in quite a long time. Twelve year old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a lonely and troubled boy, regularly tortured by bullies at school. One night while outside his apartment building, as he tries to imagine himself actually confronting these bullies, he meets a girl by the name of Eli (Lina Leandersson) who immediately tells him that she can’t be his friend. But they gradually do become friends and though she looks to be the same age, originally telling him that she is “twelve, more or less”, by the time she has amended that to admitting that she’s been “twelve for a very long time,” he begins to realize what in fact she really is. “Will you be my girlfriend?” he asks her. Will she? Can she?
Chilly but emotional, restrained yet still extremely bloody and brutal at times, it’s almost too obvious to say that LET THE RIGHT ONE IN would never be made in the Hollywood system because of all sorts of tonal issues, both sexual and violent, but it doesn’t really matter anyway since it was made somewhere. It does what few vampire movies are able to do, which is bring a fresh take and point of view on this sort of material as well as the nature of the character of Eli. It’s a difficult movie to talk about because it really does deserve to be experienced knowing as little as possible and there’s a lot I’ve avoided talking about. I don’t even want to allude to certain things that occur in the film. I’ll simply say that it just might be that rare movie that comes along which tries to elevate this genre beyond what you expect, turning it into something completely new. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to keep it to myself for now, while I still can. It’s so good that it made me not want to see any other movies for a few days, for fear of killing that buzz it gave me. If it’s not my favorite film of the year, it’s awfully close.
This isn’t a review, but just a thought from the weekend, where I attended a gathering of people who love this genre, who want to sometimes approach it with the seriousness it deserves. And it feels like the film was made for them, as well as anyone who could possibly understand some of the emotions it presents. Maybe some of them have been twelve for a long time as well. Maybe I have and that’s why it felt like it was made for me. It wasn’t, of course, but maybe whatever I responded to will be appreciated by someone else out there. See it now, before the American remake happens and the buzz really does get killed. This film deserves better than to be treated that way.
In closing, did I mention that I got to meet Ann Magnuson?