Let The Right One In Blu-ray Review
Magnolia's disc comes with a VC-1 encode that is perfectly serviceable without being anything revelatory. The movie's expansive and deep 2.35:1 image is accurately presented without any damage and a thin layer of filmic grain.
Despite being painted against a stark white setting, the film still employs a full palette that allows for strong colours to seep through. Red, for example, is marvellously rendered, whether it is blood splashed against snow or oozing from Eli's pale skin, or found in the toilet's engaged sign, on Oskar's lips or, particularly, the sledge that Hakan uses for body transportation. Clothes, such as Conny's hat and Oskar's coat also produce terrifically saturated reds, as does the toy Native Indian that Oskar plays with. Whilst the interiors of the apartments seem to be dominated by magnolia, cream, beige or coffee shades, there are still some elements that really stand out, such as the garishly lime green chair in Oskar's room, or the cover of the book he is flicking through. Although striking when compared to the largely pale setting, these colours exhibit no smearing or bleed-through - great visual signposts that have definitely been designed as subliminal triggers. The woodland mural that decorates Oskar's room has a nice combination of hues, and the shocking hospital bed inferno is marvellously bolstered by organic oranges and yellows and intensely bright white flame.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Oskar, himself, has been on the receiving end of some DNR. He hasn't, of course, it is just that, out of everyone in the film, he is the palest and most featureless. But, beyond him, facial detail is extremely good, with texture, hair and eyes clearly presented. Detail around the settings, both interior and exterior, is also smartly rendered and the transfer's handling of snow and ice, and the patterns and textures therein, is highly impressive, with real structure, flake and crystal definition on show. Also, have a look at the gleam on the plastic coated squares on the Rubik's Cube to see the naturalistic attention that this transfer has. Wounds are quite revealing too - with one truly hideous melted-face effect that certainly rewards close-up scrutiny.
The image's three-dimensionality isn't grand, but there are definitely times when it presents a very satisfying degree of depth. Some shots of Eli and Oskar sitting on the climbing frame offer nice deep compositions, and there is an eerie and realistic visual depth afforded to views of people in the mid-ground with snow-flakes falling between them and ourselves. Contrast levels are also pleasing, with fine separation, smooth transitions from light to dark and vice versa, and consistency throughout. Check out the car headlights coming over the hill and illuminating Oskar as he stands in the road waiting to hitch a lift. And even if blacks aren't exactly the best in the business, they still provide great shadow-play and don't appear to mask any detail within.
Overall, this is a very fine transfer that, despite the stylistic limitations of the film's visual appearance, creates a powerful and highly defined image that encourages the eyes to roam. On the downside, one slight - and I mean slight - detraction are a few brief instances when objects and characters on the periphery of the image seem to lose definition, blurring ever so slightly when the focus of our attention is centred elsewhere. Having seen this, now, on two different set-ups and experienced the same effect on both I can only put this down to the disc and not my screen. But, hey, I was looking for such things anyway, so I really wouldn't worry as you will probably never notice it. Besides, it may even be inherent to the print. And, thankfully, edge enhancement, motion-drag and artefacts aren't problems, either.
Let The Right One In gets a strong 9 out of 10 from me.
Magnolia supply both English dubbed and original Swedish audio tracks in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The film is hardly the kind of material that utilises an intensive all-speaker workout, but nor is the high-definition sound on offer squandered in any way.
If anything, Let The Right One In's lossless audio track enhances the stillness of the location and the bleakness of a Swedish winter. In other words, the movie is largely swathed in palpable lulls and blanketed in quiet lyricism until the many shock sequences take place. And then, folks, you will be in for a real treat.
When things get dramatic, the clever sound design exhibits deep bass levels, sharp high ends that glisten with stingers and screams and a varied texture that flies across the environment with finesse and precision. The convincing placement of sounds within the audio-frame is excellently achieved, with particular kudos going to the scene in the locker room, when frantic screams for help rip from the speakers and the pounding on the door from would-be rescuers accurately reverberates across the soundscape to combine in providing a heart-stopping experience. The attacks often leave a residual throbbing bass tone that flows right across the room, the kind of physical sound that is heavy in the air and considerably felt.
The rear speakers are used sparingly, but convincingly. When called upon, they deliver effects, ambience and musical accompaniment with vigour and natural-sounding clarity. Steerage around the set-up is also very well achieved with some seamless panning and spot-on directionality. The spread across the front is wide and the stereo reach is clear and authentic, with voices, shouting, screams and vehicle movement all well positioned and directed. There is also keen attention paid to such things as the knocking on doors, on walls, windows and even on the ceiling above in the aftermath of another of Eli's kills - all of which have definite placement and sharp clarity.
Although the English dubbed version is also lossless, I much preferred the original Swedish language track which was, it goes without saying, much more natural sounding. When compared to the Swedish track, it loses substance and emotion in the dialogue. But, either way, this is a tremendous audio transfer for a film with a sound design that can be either incredibly subtle, or wonderfully and suddenly aggressive.
As with the video transfer, Let The Right One In gets a firm 9 out of 10. Excellent.
Well, sadly, there isn't a lot on offer here, folks.
But, although I would have wished for more, I was surprised by how frank and informative the scant 7 minutes of Making Of actually were. With Tomas Alfredson giving us his feelings for the material and showing us how he went about filming certain aspects - quite nicely, most of the footage we see revolves around the killings, themselves - this brief featurette is not at all the usual EPK pap that is bolted onto such releases and, at least, gives us opinion, insight and some on-set reveals.
We also get four Deleted Scenes. Lasting between one and two minutes apiece, we get some more bullying, another - and incredibly subtle - display of Eli's supernatural skills, poor Virginia shown suffering from “bad blood”, and a great little snarling contest between Eli and Oskar. Nothing that would have improved the final cut of film, but nice to see, anyway.
Finally, this slight package is rounded-off with a Photo Gallery and a selection of five Posters, depicting Swedish and US artwork. The photo gallery actually has some elements of the score and effects track playing over the top in DD 5.1, as well, which adds a great deal of creepy atmosphere.
It is not beyond the realms that a UK edition will pack more in, however. Or that a later special edition sneaks out.
As it stands, this gets a 5 out of 10 - and I'm being a little generous here.
Chilling, but not as cold as its sterile, monochromatic setting would lead you to believe. Disturbing, but not in any conventional sense. Moving, but eerily uplifting, too. Let The Right One In is a strange adventure into a land of white gothique, a fable from the sleepy legends of medieval folklore that has been grafted upon modern societal dilemmas. Without a doubt, Alfredson's film is a compelling one, and beautifully told in stark, un-blinkered snowbound imagery that hides nothing, yet reveals only the faintest hints of the darkness dwelling beneath. Like the bloodied patch of a recent kill hidden just under the fresh snow, it has a pervading sense of something grim and nasty taking place just out of sight, like the creepy sensation of a dead body lying in another room. But this remains a work of visual poetry that balances its horror with a dark love that breaks as many hearts as it does taboos.
Magnolia's disc offers us a very good AV transfer that marvellously captures the reverse-negative moodiness of Alfredson's stark cinematography and delivers some seriously jolting audio. The only real downside is the lack of extras which, for what is sure to be a cult favourite, only means that another version will probably come along one day.
This is definitely one to let in, folks.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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