Friday, April 24, 2009

Movies: Vaguely Sexually Ambiguous Horror Double Feature

Today I'll be reviewing two horror movies containing some vague sexual ambiguities. Both movies are directed by foreigners, although one is an American production.

Let the Right One In

This movie is sort of an antidote to all the recent "Twilight" hoopla - judge for yourself:

Oskar is a lonely boy who is routinely bullied by his classmates. One night, though, he runs into a young girl named Eli, who's just moved into an apartment across the way. The two have a relationship that develops over the course of a number of grisly murders in town.

Yes, it's a vampire story, but there isn't any stupid plot twist - from the moment you lay eyes on Eli, you know she's...unusual, and most viewers, even without any prior knowledge of the plot, will guess her true nature rapidly. But what really is her true nature?...

Lina Leandersson does an incredible job playing Eli, whose limited dialogue was actually dubbed over by a boy. The movie has the austere look common to murder films set in winter (blood on snow imagery is interesting to look at, no matter how cliché it is). What I like most, though, is that the movie embraces essentially every aspect of the classic vampire mythos (the titular aversion to entering uninvited, obsessive-compulsiveness, vulnerability to sunlight, etc.) without being silly. For those worried that vampires that sparkle in the sunlight will take over the planet, "Let the Right One In" is a delicious alternative.

Rating: 8/10

Midnight Meat Train

No, it's not a gay porn flick - it's an adaptation of a short story that originally appeared in Clive Barker's "Books of Blood." In MMT, a photographer stumbles across a brutal crime: a serial killer apparently murdering riders of the late night subway in New York. As the photographer investigates deeper, he learns the nearly unimaginable motives and methods behind the disappearances.

I'm not a huge Clive Barker fan (my favorite work of his is "Undying," an obscure PC game released in 2001), but this is one of the best "punch-in-the-gut" horror premises you'll ever see. Simple, visceral, and common enough to happen to anyone. As for the film itself, "Midnight Meat Train" was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, the director of "Versus." As you might expect, the fight scenes are suitably exciting and bloody, easily the best parts of the film. It all builds up to a gory crescendo compares favorably to most mainstream horror (I'm a little tired of gore porn and teen slasher flicks hogging all the horror mind share).

Rating: 8/10


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