Meatballs? Check. Neutrality in wartime? Check. One of the most truly badass, creative, and stirring vampire movies ever? Check. Sweden’s got it all. This Swedish vampire flick is a modern classic but it doesn’t even really feel like a horror movie. It’s more like Stand by Me but with more snow, and instead of leeches, it’s a 12-year old girl drinking your blood. That’s a bit misleading. Let me start over.
This movie is about Oscar, a middle school kid who’s tormented by bullies at school. A bizarre girl and her dad move in next door to Oscar and right away people start noticing weird things happening. Bodies start to pile up. Cats start acting weirder than usual. People are are getting suspicious of the new family. I’m not giving too much away to say that soon we find out that the girl is a vampire. Oscar, as a social outcast, and Eli (the vampire), as an obvious outcast to society and the human race at large, strike up a friendship and an adorable (I don’t mean that in a pejorative way either) middle school romance. He’s pretty supportive of her in spite of her need to feast on human blood and she teaches him to stand up to the bullies- pretty standard relationship.
Now, It’s not a traditional horror movie because the killer is the good guy. It actually turns the genre on its ear. We are humanizing the bloodsucking monster and rooting for the death and dismemberment of a series of rambunctious kids. I’m not going to get too deep into the social commentary, but think about it when you watch the movie (and you really should watch it.)
Don’t be discouraged, loyal horror fans. As I mentioned before, we still have a pretty good body count by the end of the movie. And no shortage of vampire chow-down sessions. It’s actually got all the elements of a good vampire movie. And while it follows most of the the rules and vampire archetypes, it still makes you think about the genre in a different way. I know the “let’s humanize the vampire” thing has been done. And even the tragic “this girl was turned into a vampire at a young age and now she’s forever stuck in some sort of bizzaro-Peter Pan-esqe hell on earth”. This still feels different. You smile, then you want to cry. It’s basically a Wes Anderson movie but with more blood.
- Is it scary: 4. Like I said before, It’s not a really a horror movie in the strictest sense. There are some suspenseful moments, but that’s not really what it’s about.
- Originality: 9. While this movie follows the rules, it still feels really fresh and creative. Not like any vampire movie I’ve seen before.
- Blood: 7. Not buckets of blood. And I’ve seen more in other vampire movies, but it’s not tame either. And for some reason, you get extra points when the blood is pouring out of a 12 year-old girls face.
- Believability: 9. Really authentic and believable. The acting by these two kids really makes the movie.
- Setting/Cinematography: 5. Nothing groundbreaking here with the setting. I think the idea is to give you a sense of loneliness and isolation rather than fear. As much as I liked this movie, I have to be fair to the rating system. There is still some interesting camera work but again, it doesn’t do too much to boost the score.
Final Score: 34/50