“Frigga killed one of our regular clients yesterday”
Thriller En Grym Film to give the movie its full title is an exploitation movie from Sweden. It is also one of the most infamous movies ever made. The film is in Swedish but dubbed into English which means maybe it shouldn’t be reviewed here. The reason I am including it is because this movie is one of the most notorious yet influential European movies of all time. If that seems like excessive hyperbole, without Thriller, Kill Bill would not exist in its current form. Tarantino acknowledges its influence, The character of Ellie Driver is a direct tribute to Thriller.
Thriller is the story of Frigga/Madeline ( Christina Lindberg) who is sexually assaulted as a child. The trauma of this event leaves her mute. Frigga grows up & one day she accepts a lift from Tony. He subsequently kidnaps her, drugs her, slowly turning her into a heroin addict. Once addicted Tony puts her to work as a prostitute in return for her heroin & a cut of her takings. At first Frigga refuses to co-operate & scratches a clients face. As a punishment Tony takes a scalpel & blinds her in one eye. Frigga goes back to work wearing an eyepatch & bides her time taking lessons in martial arts & buying weapons until she is ready to take revenge against everyone that wronged her.
There are two versions of Thriller available. One with scenes of hardcore pornography inserted & one without. I have only seen the one with the scenes of hardcore pornography & can safely say they are not needed & if anything detract from the movie. These scenes do not involve Christina Lindberg, they look like they were cut in from a completely different movie. I’m no prude but the film gains nothing from these scenes & the scenes themselves are crass & unnecessary. While we are on the subject of Thrillers weaknesses. The pacing of the movie isn’t great & the plot is full of holes. After all if Frigga could leave the brothel to train in martial arts or buy weapons, why go back? I would also point out that when Frigga starts using the shotgun the film goes into super slo mo. I really mean super, super slo mo. You can go make a coffee as Frigga pulls the trigger & by the time you come back her target will still be in mid-air on his way to the ground.
What Thriller does have in its favour is Christina Lindberg. Who is quite simply with the exception of Beatrice Dalle, possibly the most beautiful woman ever to grace the big screen. She is outstanding in this movie. Her performance is wonderfully understated & at the same time so powerful. You feel for Frigga, You feel her pain, degradation & suffering. Lindberg achieves all this playing a character that doesn’t speak! Add to that the sight of Lindberg in an eyepatch, long black coat, holding a shotgun. Iconic, influential & frankly as cool as fuck. Thriller is Christina Lindberg’s movie.
Thriller is a heavily flawed film, yet it is a film that demands to be seen, even if it is just for Christina Lindberg’s performance. Recommended, just don’t expect too much.
“I’m twelve, but I’ve been twelve for a long time”
Let The Right One In is a Swedish adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s excellent novel of the same name. Made in 2008 with a screenplay by Lindqvist himself & respectfully directed by Tomas Alfredson, Let The Right One in is a faithful & wonderful adaptation of the book. In the current climate of woeful vampire movies (The Twilight saga) & awful TV shows (True Blood) Let The Right One In stands out as a vampire tale worth watching.
Let The Right One In is the story of the relationship between Oskar, a 12yr old boy who is bullied daily in & out of school & Eli the young girl who moves in next door to Oskar. The two meet for the first time in the communal play area for the apartments & Eli tells Oskar that they can never be friends. Despite this, over time they become good friends. During this time Eli encourages Oskar to stand up for himself. It’s during this time that the man Eli lives, with who Oskar assumes is Eli’s father, Hakan is caught trying to obtain blood for Eli. So as to avoid being recognised & save Eli, Hakan pours acid over his face & is hospitalised. Eli goes to the hospital, scales the wall & after Hakan opens the window Eli feeds on him before Hakan falls to his death. All alone, Eli goes to Oskar, hoping Oskar can accept what she is & help her.
Let The Right One In is a breath of fresh air as far as the vampire genre is concerned. It expands on themes touched on by films like Interview With A Vampire & Near Dark. Eli has lived for a long time, yet she is still a 12yr old girl. She isn’t an adult trapped in a child’s body, she is simply a 12yr old girl with a dark secret. She still thinks & acts as a typical 12yr old would. This makes the dynamic between her & Oskar so intense. Let The Right One In is a wonderful film but I have one issue with this movie. This hurts me to say but the American remake Let Me In is a better film. That last sentence pretty much goes against everything I hold dear & true in cinema. As a rule I dislike remakes, especially American remakes of Asian or European classics. The Ring, The Grudge, Quarantine, Dark Water, Shutter, the list goes on & on are all inferior remakes of great movies. But Let Me In bucks that trend. As a warning there are minor spoilers coming up. Let Me In remains essentially faithful to Lindqvist’s book. Oskar becomes Owen & Eli becomes Abby. It leaves out the gender ambiguity of Eli & concentrates on the relationship between the two protagonists. I personally thought that as good as Kare Hedebrant (Oskar) & Lina Leandersson (Eli) were, & they were excellent in their respective roles. Kodi Smit McPhee (Owen) & Chloe Grace Moretz (Abby) were just amazing, they really managed to make you feel for these two damaged personalities. Let Me In just seemed a more personal movie than Let The Right One In.
Let The Right One In is a great piece of cinema, one that everyone should see. If possible it should be seen before Let Me In, but either way both films deserve your attention. A wonderful story, beautifully acted & well-directed. I highly recommend everyone to see this movie.