by Brett Battles

I’m not very good at writing reviews, mainly because I find it impossible to recap a story. Not because I can’t, but because I’m always afraid of telling too much, and I really want others to go into a book or a film with as little foreknowledge as possible.

That said…

Boy do I have a film recommendation for you. It’s a Swedish film that you can stream on Netflix right now. And though THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO is Swedish, and available to stream on Netflix (and also highly recommended by me), that’s not the film I’m talking about.

The film I have in mind is a thriller, but not the typical kind of thriller I would usually see. In fact, it’s actually the kind of film I would usually avoid. Why?

Because it’s a vampire film.

Yep, a vampire film. And no, we’re not talking a vampire film in the vein of the Twilight Series (and just to be up front, I’m not making a judgment about those one way or other as I haven’t seen them.) In fact it’s been a while since I’ve seen any vampire film, but there was a time… That said, of the vampire films I have seen over the years, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is one of the best of the genre I have ever watched.

I’m sure some of you have heard of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Hollywood sure has. They’re currently making an English language version right now, retitled as LET ME IN. But let me implore you, see the Swedish version first. See it soon. Hell, if you have Netflix on your computer, stream it now! I’m sure the English language version will be fine, but the Swedish version is fantastic.

I don’t know what’s going on in Sweden these days, but they are pumping out some great actors. Just like with Noomi Rapace in DRAGON TATTOO, RIGHT ONE boasts some truly remarkable performances. (And we all know what I thought of Noomi’s work as Lisbeth Slander!) Okay, maybe the performances are not quite to Noomi’s level of awesomeness, but they are excellent nonetheless. This time the standouts are two kids who were probably around 12 when the movie was made. I’m resisting saying anything more about them because, like I said above, I think it’s best you discover their performances along with the film as a whole yourself.

Another aspect of the film that I loved was the cinematography. The movie was shot simply, but beautifully, highlighting the wintery starkness and splendor of the cold, white Swedish winter. Truly amazing.

Bonus: the movie is based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay.

Yes, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is disturbing. Yes, it is, at times, violent. Yes, you will see blood. But, surprisingly, I found it also moving, and touching, and, well, brilliant.

As you can see, I can’t recommend this movie enough. Do yourself a favor, see it.

TV Quickie: At the beginning of the month RUBICON premiered on AMC with the first two episodes of the series. Because of other conflicts, I haven’t been able to see any of the episodes since…(which I plan on rectifying)…but I will say those first two episodes really grabbed me. Conspiracies, shadow governments, great writing, excellent cast…lots of upside. Perhaps it’s fallen flat on its face since then, but I’m betting not. And since it’s on AMC, I’m sure they are going to be rerunning older episodes multiple times. It reminds me a bit of THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (the book was SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR), and the BBC version of TINKER, TAILER, SOLIDER, SPY. Worth checking out if that’s your kind of thing.

Graphic Novel Quickie: If you’re into young adult angst, love, and slackerness, like video games and struggling rock bands, and don’t hate Canada, the SCOTT PILGRIM VS. series (6 books, all now out) is a ton of fun. Haven’t seen the movie yet, so don’t know how it compares. But the books were definitely entertaining, if the subject matter works for you. 





That’s it on the recommendations for now. So, seen any good movies lately? Or TV shows? Or graphic novels? Or…?

Apologies once again. I’m on a plane today, so I won’t get to the comments until later tonight.





  1. Debbie

    Thanx for the movie recommendation. My husband has a frightening movie collection so I convulse at the thought of telling him about anything new and, at the same time, I like that once in a blue moon, I can be the one to do it! Btw Brett, I like that you called it the Swedish winter. I'm from that dreaded Canada and am astounded by the ignorance regarding that season, which is just that, one season. (It's been above 80 for the past four months here and filming real looking snow now would be as impossible as it is in California!)
    Old film rec." Snowcake. Yeah it has a Canadian feel but, there's just something about it…could it be Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Carrie-Anne Moss….
    Oh, and Perfume. Read the novel first, it's unfilmable…and yet! A movie seriously overlooked for Oscar noms IMO.

  2. Jeannie Holmes

    I agree with Brett. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is definitely one of the best vampire films of recent years, for all the reasons he mentioned. However, Brett knows me and knows I love my vampires so it should come as no surprise that I also have a recommendation.

    One of the best and often overlooked vampire films from the last century is NEAR DARK. Why do I like this movie? For starters, it's one of a handful that are written and/or directed by a woman. Kathryn Bigelow, who one the Oscar last year for best director for THE HURT LOCKER, directed and co-wrote the screenplay for NEAR DARK. It's an amazing film — American Western meets road trip meets Dracula. The most amazing part, for me, is that "vampire" is never once mentioned in the film and yet the audience knows exactly what these characters are.

    Yes, there is love story in NEAR DARK but it doesn't overshadow the gritty and violent existence of the vampires. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. It's one of my all-time favorites, and as Brett can tell you, I do love my vampires. 🙂

  3. Robert Gregory Browne

    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is a brilliant movie. Unfortunately, I think more people will see the American remake (LET ME IN) and not see the original because it has subtitles.

    After viewing the trailer of the remake, I felt a little sick to my stomach. It seems they've "amped it up" American-style

    The beauty of the original movie (and, I assume, the book it's based on: http://tinyurl.com/3ad5mls ) is that it plays it very low-key, with a kind of creeping horror. It is a small masterpiece that has only one false note involving cats and special effects. And the ending is amazing.

    I imagine the ending of the American version will be a CGI gore-fest with bombastic, scary music to really hammer it all home.

    I hope I'm wrong. But I doubt it.

  4. Tammy Sparks

    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is fantastic, and I'm ALL about Vampire films and books. FYI, the American remake is titled correctly: LET ME IN is the title of the book, which is also amazing.

  5. Jeannie Holmes

    Thanks, Robert. I love NEAR DARK, and it's so often excluded from discussions because people don't know about it. I heard a rumor that someone wanted to remake it. I sincerely hope it's only a rumor. The original is near perfection.

    I also just noticed the typos in my original comment. *sigh* That's what I get for posting before tanking up on coffee.

  6. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Great recommendations and reviews, Brett. Gawd, it's been soooo long since I've seen a movie. Can't wait to see these.

  7. Dudley Forster

    Hi Bret
    Time to fire up the Netflix and check these out. I am also with you on reviews. First, mine tend to be long, (yeah yeah …just don’t call me verbose, sounds like I have a STD) The real problem is if I have a criticism I feel the need to put it into context . Avoiding spoilers can get tricky and convoluted. So I have given up any kind of detailed paragraph reviews. I believe a reader is mandated to give a public review of books he likes. So I just go with stars and something like “If you do not read this book before you die, you will have led a lesser life.”

  8. Robert Gregory Browne

    Remaking NEAR DARK? Why? Why? I think they already tried that with THE FORSAKEN by JS Cardone. Which actually wasn't bad. (Cardone has some little gems. Too bad he doesn't get much respect. I think he's a terrific writer/director.)

    Hey, why don't we remake DIE HARD? Or Terminator 2? Or let's remake Alien. It's been long enough, right? We can do a reboot. Get young, hip actors, give Sigourney a cameo…

    Hollywood is completely bankrupt in the feature world.

    I much prefer television these days.

  9. Debbie

    Dudley, verbose is a STD-it's VD (verbal diarrhea). I'm so sorry. I can't believe I actually hit submit on that one.
    You have an excellent voice and I know your comments before I even get to your name. I look forward to you being published and hope that one day I'll see you invited to blog on Murderati.
    So lists? What are some of the 'Do Not Miss' reads?

  10. Judy Wirzberger

    I've been entertaining myself (thanks DVR) with this new series about two gals, pals, funny names, Rissoto and I'll's. I heard they're from this writer who had a great interview in The Strand.

  11. PK the Bookeemonster

    It's just so difficult to commit time to a movie these days. We did see Inception last weekend and I've had The Lovely Bones from Netflix for weeks now. I did see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last month and liked it though the book had a bigger impact on me. I like Daniel Craig but I dread the American version of it.
    This summer's movies just did not make any kind of impact. I'm looking forward to the fall/holiday releases.
    Television, I'll be watching the final episode(s) of The Pillars of the Earth tomorrow night and it looks like HBO's Boardwalk Empire with Steve Buscemi will be starting in September.


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