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Film | Would you let this vampire in?

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If there are two things that up the creepy factor in a horror movie, it’s children and an uber clean and spartan, homely setting. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson added these two ingredients to his new vampire horror movie Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in).

It’s a combination of fellow Swede Lille Hallstrom’s My Life As a Dog and Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge. There’s more than good horror to this movie — it’s also a coming-of-age and romance. Let the Right One In is based on a book of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay).

What’s it about?

Awkward, intelligent and shy 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant, not to be confused with this man) is being bullied and tormented by a couple of ignoramuses at school. Not sure how to respond, Oskar does his best to take it and do his own thing, while slipping into something of a morbid (but highly internalised) interest in revenge. As a consequence, he’s withdrawn to his own place and company, but still earnest for a friend.

Enter Eli (Lina Leandersson), seemingly a 12-year-old girl and Oskar’s strange new neighbour. Oh, and she’s a vampire with a natural hunger for blood, who sources her stocks locally, organically and humanly.

Oskar and Eli become friends and soon develop affections for each other. She teaches Oskar to be confident and fight back, while he warms her heart. But what happens when the other neighbours grow suspicious of the new neighbour? Will Oskar find out Eli’s true identity?

It ain’t no Twilight

Let the Right One In is a chilling horror story in a stark, chilly setting. It’s not a gorefest — sometimes it’s the horror of what is heard but not seen — and definitely sits within the “creepy” hue of the genre. The stark, Scando-minimalism of its homely interiors and the eerie, wintery landscapes add to the creepiness. It’s almost clinical. What better canvas is there for blood than snow? The soundtrack matches perfectly. All in all, a very atmospheric horror flick.

But, for me there was a point of departure, where the film resists going down a Damien Omen path and gives way to something else — the story of Oskar (and Eli). At its heart I think this movie is about coming of age.

A key theme is revenge, and its no coincidence that Eli comes into Oskar’s life when he’s really trying to come to grips with wanting revenge. Both Oskar and Eli are after blood. Only difference is Eli has no choice. And this relationship takes place in a town full of all sorts of human cruelty and darkness, subtly running in through the movie.

What Oskar learns is to let love in, to let the right one in. The movie and book is named both after a Morrissey song (“Let the Right One Slip In”) and folk lore that a vampire must be invited in.

The ending was surprising and not the choice I would’ve made.

Let the Right One In is a curious and unique film. Its tenderness and depth in no way takes away from the horror. We can likely expect an American remake in years to come, but it’s really a film only a Scandinavian could get away with.

Take a peak at the trailer.

» Let the Right One In | Official Site
» Interview with the book’s author

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Written by Darren Smith

19 April 2009 at 7:53 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] Original post by Darren Smith […]

  2. hello!!

    I was searched at “Let the right one in”
    in ‘google’,
    Found your blog image.

    I’m not good at english, so I end this comment.

    aekyungseo

    26 January 2010 at 4:57 am


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