LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
By Andrea Warner
Haunting, hopeful, and soulfully sweet, Let The Right One In is the remarkable and complex new Swedish film juxtaposing vampire lore with the awkward loneliness of prepubescent youth.
Oskar (Kåre Hederbrand) is a ghostly-pale 12-year-old who is being bullied at school, constantly fantasizing about revenge and murder, and intrigued by his new neighbour, Eli (Lina Leandersson), a mysterious young girl whose penchant for human blood is becoming harder and harder to satisfy on the sly. As Eli’s secret threatens to come out of the coffin, so to speak, Oskar has to face the fact that his new friend is a real-life manifestation of his darkest thoughts.
Director Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel (Lindqvist wrote the screenplay as well) balances the nuances of love and horror perfectly. He allows Oskar and Eli to forge a touching relationship — fully realized through a series of scenes that revel in the push-pull of childishness and maturity — that is infinitely wiser than most adult couplings.
And then there’s the body count. This is perhaps the only film wherein a decapitated head signals true love, and really means it. At times delightful and winsome, the film never loses its menace. The cinematography is rooted in the naturally creepy beauty of winter-blown landscapes, with crunching snow, sparse forests, frozen lakes, and industrial-looking buildings casting a cool, pale-blue hue over the entire picture.
Every detail of Let The Right One In is perfectly layered, and all manner of themes are hinted at: family issues, suicide, homosexuality, class. It’s a thoroughly modern coming-of-age story. But, like any good vampire, it has a strong bite.