I was figuring that movie-going will be somewhat curtailed at the moment (evne more curtailed than it is currently by having a 3-year-old), so I took this last opportunity before Baby No 2 comes along to head off to see this little Swedish film, which has been receiving a great deal of critical attention.
Critical reception being a big deal, considering that it is is a horror film. A vampire film, no less.
The story, such that it is, tell us young 12-year-old Oskar, who lives with his divorced mother in a rather gloomy looking block of units in Stockholm. Into the unit next door moves a middle-aged-man and a 12-year old girl, Eli.
Eli only comes out at night, and she and Oskar strike up a warm but awkward friendship out on the monkey bars out the front of the unit. I say, awkward, because a) they’re both 12, and 12-year-olds and their horrendous awkwardness are captured beautifully here and b) awkward because it soon becomes clear that Eli is a vampire.
I haven’t read any of the Twilight series or seen the film, which is the obvious comparison, so unfortunately, I can’t say how that stacks up with that genre.
However, I’ve seen a few vampire films in my time, and even more horror films than that. So I can tell you one thing – it’s certainly not the kind of horror film that Hollywood cranks out. In fact, it’s rather the kind of way I’d do a horror film if ever I was writing one.
For starters, the director isn’t interested in the horror genre and doesn’t watch those types of films. So he’s just told the story in the way he thinks is appropriate for the kind of film it is. And what he sees as the heart of the story is the friendship between the two 12-year-olds. And so ultimately everything revolves around that. Adults are present in the story, but they’re more in the distance and less sympathetic.
And that’s what makes it a memorable film. If it had tried to be a horror film with extra character development, it would have fallen flat. Instead it’s a story about childhood friendship with some quite nasty moments in between. It both moves you and revolts you all at the same time.
So it reminds me a little bit of Petya’s fairy world from War and Peace, actually. Not a great place to be in, but it has its fascinating moments.
To say any more would either spoil the movie for those who want to see it or would gross you out. So I won’t say any more, except watch the trailer and you’ll quickly work out whether you want to see it or not.
4 out of 5.