#4: Let the Right One in 2008 Dir. Thomas Alfredson
I find the horror genre to be endlessly fascinating. And while I like a well told tale, perhaps my favorite part of horror films, as an entire experience, is watching people react to them. As a genre, horror is often seen as a dumping ground for the thoughts of the disturbed. But people that make claims like this, people who would never watch Evil Dead II, are often the same people that watch police procedurals. These television shows are not above extreme violence and feature plots where it would not be uncommon for a youngster to find half of a hooker in a dumpster, before the opening credits. It is because of this disconnect that makes people think that something like Battle Royale is trash, but will turn out in droves for The Hunger Games. I think it comes down to what people see as "high brow" horror. If a horror film has a fancy pedigree (i.e. foreign, festival darling or based on a bestselling novel), then people will buy it as a "think piece" worthy of their time. This mentality would explain why most of my anti-horror friends turned out for The Road. Pedigree Horror is what I would consider Let the Right One In. This small, mean, Swedish horror film, injected fresh blood into the vampire genre after Twilight and True Blood had left the body for dead. Let the Right One In tells the story of Oskar, a young boy who is endlessly tortured by his classmates. Oskar has a fascination with serial killers and fantasizes about retaliation. He soon meets Eli, a young girl who lives in the apartment next door. The two create a strong bond that begins with morse code tapping on their shared wall. During one of their nighttime chats, Eli reveals herself to be a vampire and offers to help Oskar with his classmate problems. While this premise may sound sinister (it is), this film is also a poignant love story, featuring sad and complicated relationships. Let the Right One In explores childhood angst, loss and love in dark and refreshing ways. There is violence in this film, but it is not gratuitous. There is also humor, but it is pitch black. If you only deign to see horror films by telling yourself that they have "high brow" appeal, then watch Let the Right One In. You can tell your friends that you've seen a "thoughtful, foreign drama which explores the angst of childhood romance and the horrors of school yard bullying.", without mentioning the little girl violently exsanguinating people.