Settle down, horror nerds. Yes, Alfredson’s fusing of the vampire movie with a coming-of-age story is a pretty good idea, especially in the character of Eli, a vampiress who can never grow up. It’s a shame, then, that he never manages to settle on a style. In the movie’s more dramatic moments, Alfredson’s camera accentuates the frosty greyness of his settings, a directorial decision that helps to underline the tentativeness of the film’s central relationship between the eager Oskar, who’s trying to deal with his newly-acquired hormones, and Eli, who’s (understandably) reluctant to get close to him. Trouble is, the vampire story also requires some scenes of violence, and this is where Alfredson stumbles, by shooting in a hacky style that emphasizes special effects with little regard to character. The film never manages to navigate the difficult balance between its two sides, so instead the tonal transitions make the movie feel schizophrenic, like it’s vascillating between Tsai Ming-liang and Paul "Not Thomas" Anderson. Seeing it at the Horror Marathon really drove this home. The horror buffs naturally ate up scenes in which SPOILER a room full of house cats attacked a woman END SPOILER, but I was more interested in the dynamic between Eli and Oskar than the relatively uninspired action scenes. Which, of course, made it all the more disappointing when Alfredson attempts to resolve their complex and fascinating relationship by SPOILER having Eli swoop in to exact revenge on the bullies who’ve been menacing Oskar throughout the film END SPOILER. Even if the scene in question wasn’t cheesy looking, it still would’ve felt like an easy copout. Still, it’ll have to be better than the upcoming remake, no?
Rating: 5 out of 10.