"I'm a lot stronger than you think I am."

I’ve been so busy all week I’ve not had a chance to write about TIFF films #2 and #3: Blame and Let Me In.

Blame (tiff | imdb) was a decent, uncomplicated little thriller from Western Australia, filled with pretty young actors in fancy clothes (for reasons explained as the film goes along). Thankfully never falling back on the crutch of a hidden twist, instead slowly revealing hints about who and how and why we are where we are. Unfortunately the ending just felt forced, which poisoned the whole thing. C+

Let Me In (tiff | imdb) was the North American remake of Let The Right One In (imdb | rotten tomatoes), which I admit sounded like a recipe for disaster. I saw the Swedish original last year and loved it, as did many other people, and we all assumed a North American remake would rob it of everything that made the story great: the sweetness of children mixed with the savagery of a desperately hungry vampire (not some sparkling moon-eyed twat), the atmosphere of the housing block, the feathery snow, the brilliant swimming pool scene. But then I read that it had been programmed at the festival by Colin Geddes, he of midnight madness. There’s no way he’d pick a shit remake of a film he must have loved as much as the rest of us. So we picked it. And we got it. And it was amazing. A scene-by-scene, nearly shot-for-shot remake, as true to the book (apparently) as the original Swedish film was. The biggest difference was that the violence was more brutal, more effect-laden; it didn’t hurt the film, it just made the schism between the sweet 12-year-old girl and the vicious monster seem all the more jarring, and interesting. It’s not just me who liked it, either; early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are running at 100%. Highly recommended. A

"Please Oskar…Be me, for a little while."

I heard a ton of buzz last year about Let The Right One In (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a Swedish movie about coming of age and, uh, vampires. I heard it referred to as the best (read: least ridiculous) vampire movie many had seen, and it was a sweet story about kids to boot, and it was also done with style. Given the near-unanimous praise it garnered (it rates a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) there was more than a bit of outrage when it wasn’t even nominated for the best foreign language Oscar.

Even considering all the hype between the release date and when I finally watched it this morning, and the high expectations that come with it, I really liked this film. I saw one review on RT comparing it to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, and I can definitely see that. It was horror, but not in the way we’ve come to know it in North America, full of laughable cliches, improbable setups and over-the-top violence. It was tension and fantasy in mundane, dreary and dreary circumstances…you know, life.

It was certainly the most unusual vampire movie I’ve seen. It was beautifully shot. It was creepy and touching and almost cute sometimes. Highly recommended.