a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin.
Apr 3, 2009
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: With marked similarities to CARRIE, this is a Swedish vampire film. Oskar, the most bullied boy in school, makes friends with a girl who appears to be his own age, but is somehow different. The somehow is that she is a vampire, living a life as isolated in her way as Oskar is in his. The two form a bond against a background of vampire-related killings. In spite of the fantasy motif this is a serious film about serious problems. Tomas Alfredson directs John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his own novel. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Every school has one. He is the one kid who is the easiest mark and the one who is always the target of cruelty. The most bullied kid is school is twelve-year-old Oskar (played by Kure Hedebrant) who is reaching a confused puberty facing his parents' broken marriage and his living without friends in an atmosphere as cold as the Swedish winter around him. One day playing with a knife, taking his frustration out on a tree, he runs into a girl just his age. Eli (Lina Leandersson) is new to his apartment block. Though she says she cannot be friends with Oskar, she is clearly interested in him. And she is strange. She seems unable to eat candy or come out in the light of day. Soon there are reports of murders in the area. One person sees an adult committing the murders, another sees it as a young girl. Eventually Eli tells her secret to Oskar. She is a vampire. Yes, she is twelve years old like Oskar, but she has been twelve for a very long time. Together they form a sensual and intellectual relationship and Eli tries to get Oscar to fight back against his tormentors. But this may not be the best plan.
The combination of young bullies, families that do not work, revenge fantasies, and supernatural powers may bring to mind Stephen King's CARRIE, though the pacing and style are all-Swedish. The viewer may want to put on a sweater before even watching this film. The cold of the setting and the insular people who talk in isolated sentences creates a real chill in this film. Oskar is the mortal, but he looks almost like he is a vampire himself with his unnaturally white skin, his light blond hair, and his bright red lips. Eli is dark-haired with wide, hypnotic eyes. Together they form a friendship that they both desperately need.
The dialog is spoken in a Bergmanesque style, frequently given with two or three beats between sentences. That makes reading the subtitles easier, but it also separates the viewer from the characters and leaves an unsettling feeling. The silences in the film speak as much as the words. For non-Swedish speakers it may be difficult to tell the adult characters apart. Frequently the viewer is left with a feeling that he does not quite follow what the film is saying. Alfredson said in an interview that he intentionally left some of the film unexplained. There certainly are unanswered questions. The final scene does not seem to fit logically with what came before it and is left unexplained.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is not a piece of throwaway fluff. It is a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin. It is illuminated by the presence of presence of a vampire, but it is a deep and unsettling film. I rate LET THE RIGHT ONE IN a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
**** out of **** Even if "Twilight" seems to be most popular when it comes to Vampires in any form of media, it's good to get a nice, big breath of fresh air. And for me, that refreshing, long breathe was "Let the Right One In"; which by all means is the best Vampire movie since probably "Vampyr", "Nosferatu", and Herzog's remake. This is a moving, artistic, and powerful film that does not succeed because it is about vampires; but rather because it is sweet, tender, and even … more
In a small community in what appears to be in Sweden, a 12 year old by the name of Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is going through some trouble in his life. Things change when he meets a 12 year old girl by the name of Eli (Lina Leandersson). The two become fast friends and eventually they form a bond, however, unknown to Oskar, there's more to Eli than he realizes. -summary For the past 8 years or so, Europe has been surprising me and at the same time impressing … more
This is not a book for the faint of heart. No sexy Edward Cullen here. No vamps who are actually nice guys and no good girl heroes either. In fact, this vampire isn't even sexual. The novel is not particularly clear on this point, but I deduce that Eli, the vampire, was once a human boy. Now s/he sometimes appears to be a boy and other times a girl. There is no sex and certainly no love. Couple this old school vampire with a cast of unappealing human characters: an alienated … more
I hate vampire movies. I think we have reached the Vampire Event Horizon--one more vampire movie and all of movie-hood will be sucked into the black hole. That said, I liked this movie that just happened to have a vampire in it. This is a story of friendship and protection, not lust and sex. So if you want that kind of vampire movie, there are 180,097 x10 to the 35 vampire movies to choose from (which means that every atom in the universe has 5 vampire movies attached to it. I'm not kidding about … more
Ooowie...really creepy. Not so scary - but creepy creepy creepy. Just how does a twelve year old girl vampire survive? What seduction skills has she learned, and how does she draw a new fly into her web? Let the Right One In might be the best vampire movie I've ever seen, despite the revenge scene that seems to belong to another movie as it clashes against the small and careful character of the rest of the movie.
I have always had a strong fondness for vampire films. Honestly, much of the vampire films these days are full of cliché and while most of them does attempt at something original, they all have one common denominator; to induce HORROR. Well, Sweden seems to have mastered an original take on the vampire lore and yes, this film has been marked to be "Americanized" very soon. "Let the Right One In" is a film adapted from the novel and written for … more
It would seem LTROI has managed to captivate quite a few moviegoers everywhere & has enthralled it's audiences which amazes me. I actually was quite stoked about the idea of a really cool vampire flick which seemed to do so well with both audiences or critics alike & was even hoping to catch it on the big scream last year. Boy, I was in for quite a shock. This one is basically a snoozer & it took me three consecutive attempts to watch it all the way through. … more
The enduring popularity of the vampire myth rests, in part, on sexual magnetism. InLet the Right One In, Tomas Alfredson's carefully controlled, yet sympathetic take on John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish bestseller-turned-screenplay, the protagonists are pre-teens, unlike the fully-formed night crawlers of HBO’sTrue Bloodor Catherine Hardwicke’sTwilight(both also based on popular novels). Instead, 12-year-old Oskar (future heartbreaker Kåre Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson) enter into a deadly form of puppy love. The product of divorce, Oskar lives with his harried mother, while his new neighbor resides with a mystery man named Håkan (Per Ragnar), who takes care of her unique dietary needs. From the wintery moment in 1982 that the lonely, towheaded boy spots the strange, dark-haired girl skulking around their outer-Stockholm tenement, he senses a kindred spirit. They bond, innocently enough, over a Rubik's Cube, but little does Oskar realize that Eli has been 12 for a very long time. Meanwhile, at school, bullies torment the pale and morbid student mercilessly. Through his friendship with Eli, Oskar doesn't just learn how to defend himself, but to become a sort of predator himself, begging the question as to whether Eli really exists or whether she represents a manifestation of his pent-up anger and resentment. Naturally, the international success of Lindqvist's fifth feature, like Norway's chillingInsomniabefore it, has ...