Let the Right One In - Trailer Analysis

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Information about Let the Right One In - Trailer Analysis

Published on March 1, 2014

Author: ZoeRadford1

Source: slideshare.net


This is my analysis for the trailer for the Swedish horror film, 'Let the Right One In'.

Let the right one in trailer analysis Zoe Radford

As I mentioned in the previous post, ‘Let the Right One In’ is a Swedish film that was released in 2008. Set in the small town of Blackeberg in the suburbs of Stockholm in 1981, the narrative follows a 12 year old boy named Oskar (played by Kåre Hedebrant) and an unusual girl named Eli (played by Lina Leandersson), who moves in next door. Bullied in school, Oskar wants revenge, and Eli provides him with the perfect opportunity – Eli is a vampire and helps him to seek vengeance while the two develop a peculiar relationship.

The title of the film actually comes from the title of a song by Morrissey ‘Let the Right One Slip In’, and is also the same name of the book that the film is based on, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. With a budget of just £4,500,000, this film received a lot of critical acclaim and many awards, including ‘Best Narrative Feature’ at the Tribeca Film festival, Woodstock Film festival, and Toronto after Dark film festival.

Within every trailer, sound is a very important feature, and due to the fact that this film is foreign, it means that to keep the amount of subtitle text onscreen limited, the trailer has to rely more on sound than dialogue to create tension and suspense. After the display of the green band screen at 0:06, a high pitched, eerie soundtrack begins with the start of the trailer. This music is quite chilling, which when paired with the shot of the snowy scene at 0:09, creates a thoroughly unnerving atmosphere.

At 0:12, we see the shot of Oskar being maliciously flicked by the other young boy, and we hear the diagetic sound of the contact on his skin – this creates the feeling that we are there at the scene, as although it is a seemingly insignificant sound, it makes the scene seem like real life, with the small sounds that we may hear. As well as this, the connection that we hear of the boy’s finger against Oskar’s skin sounds as though it actually hurt. We are made aware that this boy is a bully, and that Oskar has fallen victim to him.

The use of diagetic sound is seen again in the next scene at 0:14, where Oskar is stabbing at the tree. We hear the contact of the knife against the bark and the sound of Oskar’s breath, heavy in the cold night air, which puts us right in the shot with him.

As Oskar turns and the camera pans to follow his eye line, a shrill sound, which is part of the sound track, can be heard as the audience is shown the character of Eli for the first time. This suggests that Eli could potentially be a threat - when the music shifts, it is common in horror film trailers for the music to alter when we are revealed a threat on screen. As the shot fades to black so does this sound and the sound track returns from before.

At 0:30, a low booming noise is heard, as a letter (written in Swedish) is shown on screen. Although we can’t read the message, we can tell from this low sound that something is not right, which contrasts with the next shot of Oskar smiling. At 0:33, the uneasy feeling that this sound had created is abruptly interrupted by a loud screeching/ rumbling noise. The increased volume of this compared to the quiet and calm soundtrack from the beginning is used to indicate to the audience that this is in fact a horror, and not a thriller, which it could have been from the sound that was used before.

From this point, music starts to build, until at 0:40, the soundtrack comes to a crescendo, which echoes into silence at 0:41. This, when matched with the shots onscreen successfully builds tension, to the scene of the character of Eli, crouched over the body of what looks like a dead man, and the sound of her eating away at his flesh – she is revealed as not being as innocent as the audience originally thought. We realise that she is in fact the threat that the music indicated previously.

When Oskar opens the door at 0:42 after the moment of silence, we hear the diagetic noise of the door creaking open (which again, makes the scene more realistic). There is another moment of silence, paired with a shot of Eli smiling, creating an eerie atmosphere, as we now know that Eli is capable of murder. Two seconds later at 0:47, the music builds again to the scene of a man being viciously attacked, and the sound of him screaming is heard. This reinstates Eli’s violent nature, which we are still unsure about, leaving the audience questioning why and how a young girl could be capable of murdering fully grown men.

At 0:55, we hear the first line of dialogue, when Oskar asks (in Swedish), “Are you a vampire?” to which she replies, “Would you like me anyway?” - this dialogue is extremely important in establishing the storyline of the film that this trailer is trying to promote. From these two short lines, we are made aware of why Eli kills, which may give the audience some sympathy for the character (if the audience are aware of the nature of a vampire, they will know that vampires have to kill for blood which they feed upon, even if they don’t want to kill). Eli’s reply makes us feel even more sympathy, as it is evident that she is concerned that Oskar may not like her if he knows that she is a ‘monster’.

The music now builds with layers of drums, building tension, to the shots on screen which increase in pace and decrease in length, and at 1:05, the shot of a woman struggling on a hospital bed is shown, with the sound of her screaming (a sound that is very typical of horror films and trailers), and another scream is heard at 1:15 increasing levels of suspense.

At 1:16, all goes quiet, then an eerie echo, similar to the music at the beginning, until at 1:18, Oskar is heard again, saying, “Will you be my girlfriend?”. This is another important line of dialogue – from this, we know that the relationship between him and Eli the vampire is more than just friendship. This presents the dilemma within the film. The quiet eerie music is heard again, and the shrill sound that we heard with the introduction of Eli is heard, creating a lasting chilling feeling as the billing block comes into view at 1:32. This whole last sequence is played on screen for around 20 seconds.

Another important feature of a trailer is the mise en scene. Throughout the whole trailer (even in the first shot), we are made aware of the surroundings that the film is to take place in – the inclusion of snow lets the audience know that this film is set in winter, and once we know that the film is Swedish, it is easy to tell that it is set in Sweden, where snow almost always falls in the winter. The lighting here is limited, creating a figuratively (as well as literally) dark feeling to the introduction of the trailer. We can see dark clouds looming in the sky, which may suggest that there is a ‘storm’ coming – the ‘storm’ being the events of the trailer that will cause suspense.

At 0:11, we are introduced to several characters; Oskar, the blonde boy to the right, and the school bully to the left. Even though we are not given a definite decade when this film is set from the trailer, we can tell from the clothing and hair styles of the boys that it is not set in the present day. Oskar has ice blonde hair, cut in a jagged bob, and the boy to the right is wearing a jacket that looks as though it is from the 1980s. It is evident from this mise en scene that this is set around the 80s, and this means that the audience will pick this up and will know more about the story.

Within the frame, the characters are positioned to make the audience aware of the superiority that the boy in the background feels he has over Oskar. The boy’s arm is leaning on the wall, with his head resting on his hand, which suggests that he has a careless attitude, and as soon as he flicks Oskar, he turns to his right and smiles, suggesting that he enjoys his pain. This also suggests that he may have accomplices which are present, but out of the frame. The introduction of the character of Oskar is important in this way; according to Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratifications theory, this could provide the audience a chance to identify with him (maybe they feel sympathy or empathy for the character).

At 0:15, when Oskar is shows outside attacking the tree, he is dressed in a large coat and a scarf, which reinforces how cold it is in the scene, however, when the camera turns to Eli, we see that she is hardly dressed for a freezing cold night in the Swedish winter. This insinuates that she is not quite normal – at this stage, we are not fully aware of what is unusually about Eli, but it is evident that she is peculiar in some way.

In the next few shots, we see the two characters close up. Here, we see from the way that Eli moves herself closer to Oskar, the way she smiles and the way she touches his hand, that there may be potentially more than friendship in their relationship. At 0:30, we are made even more aware of this, as we see a shot of what looks like a love letter, in Oskar’s hand, to which he smiles silently to himself. The note, although written in Swedish, has an illustrated heart within it which has clear connotations of love, indicating that Oskar and Eli may indeed share a love for each other.

At 0:36, the slow and quiet beginning of the trailer suddenly ends, when we see Eli with blood around her mouth. This is a very disturbing shot and makes the audience wonder what has happened, and why she has blood around her face. The decade which is to be presumed to be the 80s so far is definitely reinstated at 0:40, when we see 2 women in brightly coloured ‘puffy’ winter coats and one woman is even wear a sweatband on her head – these clothes look instantly recognisable as out fits from that decade.

Across the whole trailer there is bright white, almost blue lighting that fills almost every scene. Snow in outdoor scene manages to reflect white light that shines from the street lamps (more likely to be lighting that is used especially for filming) which, again, increases the cold feeling that we experience in this. The white lighting feels very unnatural and cold, which aides the unnatural theme of the film, and the area that it is set in – vampires could be considered to be very unnatural as they are not human, and their characteristic of not feeling the cold and not being warm blooded creatures links directly to this.

Due to the fact that the film is Swedish, the small lines of dialogue had to have subtitles to accompany the sound in the international trailer, so the section of the audience who cannot speak Swedish could understand it. This is just a plain white sans serif font that often is used for subtitle fonts. In the last 20 seconds of the trailer, there is a continuous scene of pure white snow falling against a dark night sky. This is very effective, as again, it links to the cold characteristic of vampires and the wintery setting in which the film was shot in.

At 1:21, we see a quote from Joseph B. Mauceri from ‘Fear magazine’ which states, “A genre masterpiece. Absolutely one of the most brilliant narratives I’ve had the pleasure to watch in the last decade.” This makes the audience aware of credible acclaim that the film has seen, and this praise may entice the audience to go and see it, due to the very positive comment that has been placed there. The font for this quote is white, which ensures that it contrasts against the black sky so it can be seen easily.

Six seconds later, the title screen appears with ‘Let the Right One In’ in capital letters, in a deep red sans serif font. The deep red has connotations of danger, and blood, which should be a main feature of a vampire film. This colour was chosen for this reason, as well as the fact that it is vibrant over the shot of the snow falling.

As well as the mise en scene, the cinematography of this trailer is large component that should be analysed. The first shot that we are shown is an establishing shot of a building, covered in snow. This sets the scene for the audience and makes them aware of where the film is going to take place. The next shot we see at 0:12, features a medium close up pulled focus, which draws the audience’s eyes to the character in the background, rather than focusing on Oskar. This brings attention to the cruel way in which he is treating Oskar and the sly look on his face, which establishes him as a bully (someone who the audience should form a dislike to). The fact that this is the first shot we see of characters shows that the bullying of Oskar plays a large role in the film – as an audience, we begin to feel sympathy for him, and we grow attached to this character.

At 0:14, the medium shot of Oskar makes sure that everything in the frame is significant, as if it was a long shot, Oskar’s feet would be in the shot, which would be unnecessary. This shot is an unusually long shot, in which the camera pans round to an over the shoulder shot, where the character of Eli is viewed for the first time. Unlike a cut, the pan provides a movement that is a fluid transition from one shot to the other. This shot builds suspense, as the slow pan means that as soon as Oskar begins to turn, the audience begin to wonder what is behind him. Because this is the introduction of Eli’s character, it is obvious (with the compilation of the slow pan and the sinister music) that she is not as innocent as a young girl would first seem to be.

Straight after this shot, we see several two shots of Oskar and Eli together – first a medium shot, and then a medium close up of the two characters’ shoulders and faces. This establishes the relationship between the two characters, and sets this up for the rest of the trailer. The close up of the two hands touching at 0:26 also provides evidence that the two must become close during this film.

At 0:30, an extreme close up of a letter is seen. This is an intimate letter, and is yet another example of Oskar and Eli’s relationship (the note is signed ‘Din Eli’ which translates to ‘Your Eli’, which implies that the two are more than just friends). The extreme close up provides us with an opportunity to see the letter, and even though most British people cannot read Swedish, it is obvious from the doodle of a heart that it is suggestive of their relationship.

The mood suddenly is changed at 0:34, when a close up of Eli’s face is shown, then an over the shoulder shot of a man falling from a window. A long shot of Eli jumping from above onto a man, then feeding on him gives the audience a chance to see what she is capable of. When Oskar opens the door at 0:43, we see an over the shoulder shot, which first focuses on the back of Oskar, then a pull focus brings Eli into view, who is smiling. The camera shifts to an over shoulder shot from Eli’s point of view, then back to a medium close up of Eli’s face. This suggests that Oskar is hesitant to invite Eli in, which fitting with the title.

At 0:52, a close up of Eli’s hand on a glass door pane and Oskar’s hand on the other side suggests an intimacy between the two. The close up lets the audience see the dirt under Eli’s finger nails, which would be unusual for a girl to have. This implies that something is not quite right. A pulled focus shot of Oskar’s face through the glass as he asks the question ‘Are you a vampire?’ lets the audience see the expression on his face – one of confusion, and maybe a hint of pain. The next shot reveals Eli’s face, whose expression seems to be one of sadness as she asks, “Would you like me anyway?”. This indicates to the audience that she is indeed a vampire, and that she cares about Oskar enough to be upset if he did not like her due to her nature. Todorov’s narrative theory could apply to this trailer here – this is the recognition of the disruption, Oskar now knows what Eli is.

The last shot of film of the trailer is a shot of snow falling, which is serine and an almost calming shot to watch. The juxtaposition of the calming shot with the disturbing shots that were placed just seconds before creates an unsettling effect after the build up of tension. This is an effective way to end a trailer, as it allows us to reflect on all the scenes from before, and makes us appreciate the tension of the storyline. The scenes that were shown before are typical of the horror genre, in the fact that they instil fear into the minds of the audience (such as a frozen dead body being dragged across the floor, and someone who is engulfed in flames in a hospital room where this would not be possible in every day life). The quiet, calm shot of the snow clearly contrasts here, which increases the tension even more.

The editing of this trailer is also very effective. In the first 30 seconds of the trailer, we see fade transitions in between shots, which allow the trailer to become more fluid. At 0:34, a fast cut is made, which allows the audience to detect a change in mood of the trailer – with a slow beginning, we are introduced to the setting of the film, and also the main characters. Only after this has been established, the fast cuts are made. As you can see from the image below, the editing of the clips is essential in creating the eerie vibe of the film. The image below is the same building as the first shot we are shown in the trailer. In the image, it looks boring and grey, however, with the editing (filters etc), the scene looks a lot more like the setting of a horror film.

The slow cuts at the beginning suggests that this is the equilibrium of the film (according to Todorov’s narrative theory) - all is still, and nothing has caused a disruption to everyday life in Blackberg. At 0:42, we see the pace change again with a fade to black. This slower moment of silence builds up tension, and at 0:47, the cuts pick up pace, at 0.5s each. These shots are paired with the images of Eli attacking a man and Oskar’s shocked face. We can tell from this that Oskar does not like what Eli does, and the audience would possibly be disturbed by the violence that Eli displays.

At 0:50, a fade to black occurs, and we see Eli hugging a horrified looking Oskar. This suggests that Eli still cares about Oskar, and does not want to hurt him. We are made aware of Eli and Oskar’s relationship through this. After this, the screen fades to black, and then a shot of Eli holding her hand to a pane of glass (with Oskar on the other side) is shown. The fade to black makes this scene softer, after the harsh cuts a few seconds previously, and this implies that Eli is not always a vicious killer – she is calm and softer when she is with Oskar.

When Oskar asks Eli if she is a vampire, we see these fade transitions again, and the music stops, so just his dialogue can be heard. This is another build up of tension – after Eli replies, a rapid fade to white is made, which makes a transition to the next shots, which are much quicker in pace than before. 30 rapid shots follow, each 0.5s long or less, which build up a fast pace of this section of the trailer. These shots are ones that show more disturbing scenes, which make us aware that this is a horror film (shots such as a distorted figure crouching over a body, and a woman who looks as though she has been possessed being carried into a hospital).

Throughout the whole trailer, there looks as though there have been blue/ silver filters placed over most of the shots. This helps to create a cold and clinical effect. Blue filters are quite common in horror trailers (even the Saw trailer features a lot of blue filters). The coldness of the Swedish town that the film is set in, is also reflected in the filters that they have put over the indoor scenes.

Straight after this, a fade transition reveals a quick shot of Eli (around 0.5s), however, she looks severely ill and this shows us that there is something not quite right. This shot fades into the next shot of Oskar’s reflection in a window. These two simple shots which feature no sound reinstate that these are the two main characters, and the look of longing on Oskar’s face especially, implies that the relationship between the two is strong.

This shot fades to black, and we hear the dialogue from Oskar, and see the subtitles on the plain black screen “Will you be my girlfriend?”. After the long build up of pace and tension, this scene seems unusual, as Oskar would still be willing to be with Eli after we have just seen her murder people. The silence creates suspense, as we do not hear Eli’s reply, or see a reaction from any of the characters. Again, this is important in showing the relationship between the two.

Straight after this, the eerie music that we heard from the beginning of the trailer can be heard again, and a shot of snow falling can be seen. This shot runs in the background as text is displayed across it. This shot lasts for around 20 seconds, which is an unusually long shot for a trailer, however, it allows a review from a magazine, the title, billing block and websites to be displayed across it. This shot is not only more interesting that just a black background, but it also reinforces the cold nature of the film, setting and characters. This scene draws the whole trailer to a close, and the contrast of the fast pace of the cuts before leaves the audience wanting to see more, which means it is effective in capturing the audiences’ attention.

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