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Let the Right One In

16/03/2009

Finally saw Let the Right One In, arguably one of the best vampire films made (sorry Twilight fans). The film, directed by Tomas Alfredson, is based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (he also write the screenplay).

It’s about Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a 12 year-old loner who is bullied in school and who befriends his neighbor, a girl of “about 12″ named Eli (Lina Leandersson), who turns out to be a vampire. That’s the short version. There’s much more to it, like Oskar’s penchant for collecting newspaper clippings of gristly crimes, and his imagined encounters with his bullies, where instead of getting beat up, he stabs them with his pocket knife instead.

From the start, he senses that Eli’s strange, though he does not know why. For starters, he smells funny and does not seem to need winter clothes.

The way their relationship develops is explored without giving away too much detail or falling into eroticism to provoke a reaction. The direction, like the movie’s landscape, is sparse, but each shot is lovingly constructed as if it were a photograph.

There’s a lot of white in this film, a lot of emptiness. It’s set in winter, and the dreary landscape only serves to underscore the strange relationship that the two children forge. Eli tells Oskar to hit back at the bullies. Oskar asks what wil happen if Eli walks into a house uninvited.

The movie contains almost no special effects. Eli does not change form when she feeds. She doesn’t grow fangs or change into a monster. She is simply a little girl who lives on human blood. And she is hands down the vampire with the most beautiful blood spatter ever. Her face is awakened wenever she has blood on it. She blooms.

I think that the film could have ended twice before it finally did. While I liked the last scene, I thought that it should have ended at the scene before that. Without giving anything away, I thought that the last scene made it too much a horror movie whereas if it had ended beforehand, it would have straddled the thin divide between horror and coming of age.

Let the Right One in is a lovely movie. You sit through it, numbed by the cold flashed onscreen, and only after the movie ends do you realize how affected by it you are after all.

I hear an American remake is in the works. It remains to be seem whether it will stand up against the original. Somehow, I doubt it.

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