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I've said it before. I'm not a huge fan of vampires. This is not to say that I don't watch or read any film or literature about them. My recent fascination with True Blood should be proof of that. However, while I may not be a fang-lover, I do like my horror movies, and there hasn't been a lot of good ones recently. At least, not from Hollywood.

To get my fix of scary, I had to turn to less than traditional sources like Spain with Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth and now, surprise, surprise, Sweden.

I stumbled upon Let the Right One In, a Swedish film based on a 2004 vampire fiction novel called Låt den rätte komma in (lit. "Let Me In"), quite by accident during my many random forays in the internet.

The film's title Let The Right One In is a reference both to the traditional vampire lore of vampires needing to be invited to a human home before they can enter and to the title of a Morrissey song, Let The Right One Slip In. I don't care about the latter because I don't know who Morissey is (if he's/she's/they're famous, then I must have heard one of his songs at some point). As for the former, suffice to state that I have enough familiarity with vampire myths to get the allusion.

However, titles aside, I have to say, between this and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I am beginning to wonder if I should always keep an eye out for Swedish movies from now on.

THE STORY


Let The Right One In is a film that focuses on the relationship that develops between a boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and a girl, Eli (Lina Leandersson), who live next door to each other. Oskar is regularly bullied by his classmates and is often shipped back and forth between his divorced parents. Considered an outsider, he keeps himself company by engaging in morbid hobbies like collecting newspaper clippings of the bizarre killings occurring near his town and fantasizing about murdering his bullies for revenge.

Eli, on the other hand, is a 200-year-old vampire who has no use for hobbies nor fantasies but does have a taste for blood. What Oskar only fantasizes about, Eli does, not for her own pleasure, but for survival. Different and yet the same, the two are drawn to each other almost at the first instant and over time become very close. But does acceptance necessarily follow?

REVIEW


Let The Right One In is set in the 1980s in a cold, dreary town of Stockholm. The coldness is a major thematic element, so important and integral to the movie in fact that the filming crew had to go to the extent of shooting most of the scenes in a different town simply because there's more snow there. The coldness and bleakness of the landscape serve to emphasize the sort of cold drought existing within the souls of these children. This, combined with the slow-burning narrative heightens the relationship drama that unfolds and the hidden terror that lurks just beyond the spots where light touches.


However, if you think this movie is meant to terrify, you are wrong. This movie is less about scaring the wits out of you and more about disturbing your moral state so much that you begin to question your own preconceived notions of what reality is. There is darkness here. Of men, regular-looking men, who calmly tie people upside down and drain them of their blood. Of kids who shove their classmate's pants into urinals and threaten to throw them into an ice hole. Of monster with a child's helpless body who perhaps prostitutes herself and snap people's necks without a second's hesitation.


Let The Right One In does not romanticize vampirism. That is what strikes me the most about this ultimately vampire film. It is treated more as some kind of medical condition, highly contagious, physically limiting and psychologically debilitating. At one point, the film shows the gruesome consequence of a vampire stepping into a home uninvited. That's always been an important, though never really fleshed out (until now), vampire lore.

Yet, for all its vulnerabilities, they don't make the vampire any less a killer. She kills to survive, uses others for basically the same purpose. She does it because she needs to and if she has any remaining moral compunctions about this, it's all buried beneath layers and layers of all her dead victims' bones and the dust of the ages. Bottomline: Eli has accepted her nature, and has learned to live with it without complaint.

This makes her the complete opposite of Oskar, whose life is all about discontent. In his quest to break free from the bonds of his own limitations, Oskar discovers his destiny. Eli in all her awesome and terrible beauty is everything he isn't -- dark, strong, brave. This element of being "mirror opposites" is even carried over to the casting choice for the child actors whose looks couldn't be farther from each other.

While the film touches upon dark and supernatural themes, at its very core, Let The Right One In concerns itself with the question of acceptance. In the film, Eli says to Oskar over and over: "Be me a little, be me a little."

When you see yourself as the other person, that's the moment acceptance sets in. You don't even have to understand the reasoning or the motivation behind the action. All you need to do is to know that there is such reasoning, that there is such motivation, and that is enough.

THE SCORE:

Story - 10
Sound - 7
Cinematography - 10
Picture - 10
Special Effects - 4
Acting - 8

Overall - 8.2/10

Post a Comment

I am not really a movie buff, but from your write-up I guess I'd love to watch it. Thanks :)

Regards,

Hi, Tanvi. I'm glad that I've somehow made you interested in this movie. There's actually an American version of this film, called Let Me In, which I hear is also very good. However, I highly recommend the original simply because it came first and doesn't have the Hollywood treatment.

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