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Manuel de Layet [Celluloid 05.18.18] Sweden thriller fantasy romance

"You have to ask yourself, Miss Kitty, would you rather be comforted by a lie or strengthened by the truth?"

As you have obviously guessed given the introductory quote Border based on a short story by John - "Let the Right One In" - Lindqvist, is another meditation on the influence of nature and nurture in the construction of the self and our relation with the world through the distorting lens of fantastic realism.

At its core, that's all there is to it. You know when sitting in the theater what will happen, why, when. The real variable is in the execution of such a pitch. Outside of that, there's padding fluff that is not without interest:

Scandinavian folklore is generally known for two rather diametrically opposed things. On one hand, you have a complex tradition of epic narratives, involving gods, fae, trolls, and Loki tying one end of a rope to his testicles, the other to a goat and playing tug of war with said caprine.

On the other you get seedy police procedural, the so-called "Nordic Noir," popularized into mainstream staples by Stieg Larson and Jo Nesbo, of which plots usually revolve around extremely creative malefactions committed on women and/or children by middle-aged men that may or may not be Nazis.

So what do we get in the Venn diagram resulting of their rather unholy union? A modern-day setting where Fae-folk are committing various iniquities on women and children. Combining the self-discovery voyage with that setting does sound tremendously fun.

As with any good fantastic script, there are also deep moral questions being asked in the background, namely "can atrocities committed unto you in the past justify the atrocities you are about to commit?"

All this is nothing new, but it is a solid script. All the proper ingredients are there for some quality entertainment, without being a mindless romp of jump-scares and blood splatter. Sadly the execution is lacking.

As Colonel Dubois said unskillful work can easily subtract value; an untalented cook can turn wholesome dough and fresh green apples into an inedible mess" and this particular recipe script in the hands of the director becomes a lacklustre, paint by numbers piece with the cinematography of a cheap east-German telefilm.

And that's a bit of a shame because the lead actress is incredible.

Recommended Release: Let the Right One In

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