Let The Right One In
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Oscar, a 12-year-old fragile and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl he befriends, who moves into his building. When Oscar discovers that Eli is a vampire it does not deter his increasing feelings and confused emotions of a young adolescent. When Eli loses the man who protects and provides for her, and as suspicions are mounting from her neighbors and police she must move on to stay alive. However when Oscar faces his darkest hour, Eli returns to defend him the only way she can.
The enduring popularity of the vampire myth rests, in part, on sexual magnetism. In Let 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 HBOs True Blood or Catherine Hardwickes Twilight (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 chilling Insomnia before it, has inspired an American remake, which is sure to boast superior special effects, but can't possibly capture the delicate balance he strikes here between the tender and the terrible. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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As to the content; absolutely one of the very best vampire movies ever made. It is both hypnotic and poetic in the way it unravels its tale of loneliness and love. It is a slow burn in the best way. But for those of you seeking sparkly vamps in an action setting filled with CGI, you best go elsewhere. "Let the Right One In" is a wonder to behold, and the Blu-Ray captures every nuance beautifully with both sight and sound.
Oskar is a shy, withdrawn and unfortunately bullied student who is often ignored at home by his always-working mother and his distant father is an alcoholic. Oskar spends his time collecting newspaper articles of murder stories and pretending to get back at his tormentors by killing them with his knife. Essentially, Oskar has all the makings of a serial killer.
One night Eli appears atop the jungle gym in the courtyard and confronts Oskar. She tells him that they cannot be friends, but a friendship develops anyway. Like Oskar, Eli is also twelve years old but she's been that way for a long time because after all, she's a vampire.
More than a simple horror film, this is really a classic love story of two children on the brink of becoming adults. But while Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is destined to grow older, Eli (Lina Leandersson) will remain the same. This simple conundrum is compounded by other factors. For example, the small fact that Eli is a stone-cold killer. Although we see her initially regret her actions, Eli is who she is and that's it. This instantly separates "Let the Right One In" from the more "sparkly" treatments of vampire movies in recent years. To say more about the story of the film will rob it of the many surprises that awaits inside. However, I will say that both Eli and Oskar come to resolutions about their true natures in a very logical manner which makes this film a cut above most.
"Let the Right One In" is beautifully photographed, one of the best I've seen. Not just for the scenic overviews of snowy Sweden but the composition of the shots are truly powerful. The first time Eli is fully revealed is beautifully rendered in pan shot that instantly harbors her true nature. The climatic scene of the film which takes place at a indoor swimming pool is also a classic of framing where so much is implied, but very little is actually seen. This entire film almost plays more like a fairy tale which adds to the timeless nature of the material. It also helps that there are moments of humor even in the most dire of circumstances.
The two children who play Oskar and Eli are wonderful in their roles and quite expressive as well. I can only hope that they go on to do excellent work in the future as they are simply mesmerizing here. It actually helps that Lina's true voice was dubbed to make her more androgynous which is an important plot point in the film. Also, because the deeper voice makes her character more interesting and helps convey the wisdom that is well beyond her age, but not her years on this planet. Both actors should be applauded for creating unforgettable characters that we really care about, which instantly puts "Let the Right One In" above many of its contemporaries.
Is "Let the Right One In" a true classic? I can't really say. It certainly has all the makings of one, however. If anything, it is easily the greatest film ever made whose title comes from the lyric of a Morrissey song.