Film Reviews

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

By • Jan 3rd, 2009 •

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The best vampire movie of the year.

Remember in Anne Rice’s ‘Interview With A Vampire’ when iconic vampire Lestat de Lioncourt made six-year old Claudia a vampire? She then stayed six years old forever and was very angry about it.

In the brilliant, macabre, mood-rich Swedish movie, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, it is the 1980s and shy 12-year old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is living with his mother in a Stockholm suburb and bullied by his schoolmates.

Oskar would love to take revenge on the trio of bullies harassing him daily. He carries a knife and acts out fantasies of killing them.

One evening in the courtyard he meets pale, underdressed Eli (Lina Leandersson). She has just moved in next door to Oskar with an older man who takes care of her, Hakan (Per Ragnar). Oskar and Eli meet every night and soon bond. Oskar wants Eli to be his girlfriend but she tells him she is not like other girls. In a wonderful moment of true acceptance, Oskar doesn’t mind if she’s a boy. We soon find out that Eli is a vampire and Hakan murders people for their blood for her.

When Hakan is arrested at a vicious crime scene, Eli must kill. Oskar becomes her confidante. He’s not afraid of her. Encouraged by Eli to confront his tormentors, the result spirals to a fascinating, and quite satisfying, conclusion.

And the hope for a sequel.

Everything is perfect. The freezing cold and the constant snow give LET THE RIGHT ONE IN an isolated, terrifying landscape. Eli is not a magical, ethereal vampire beauty but an unkempt girl suffering from blood starvation, an animal’s instinct to survive, and a frightening feral look. She’s very strange. She could be Nosferatu’s niece.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN gives us some standard vampire lore (she never eats, sleeps covered up in a bathtub, and can only be invited in). Sometimes Eli answers Oskar’s questions. But since they are children, there is not much exposition. And there doesn’t need to be. We intuit the relationship between Eli and Hakan, Eli’s sadness and the unglamorous, sad life she leads.

Director Tomas Alfredson has made a stunning, darkly complex film using the Swedish dark nights as an important element in the vampire myth. Hedebrant and Leandersson are terrific. Blond, angelic Hedebrant is a wonderful symbol countering Leandersson’s dark persona.

I urge you to see or rent this film and hope we can encourage a sequel. As far as a Hollywood remake goes, is Dakota Fanning ready to look dirty, smelly, hungry and an unrepentant killer? (Not that she doesn’t have it in her. She’s a product of Hollywood.)

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