Let The Right One In

A lonely twelve year old finds his soulmate in a mysterious vampire girl in the beautiful and enigmatic horror fantasy Let The Right One In, one of the films of the year.

Adapted by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own bestselling novel, the story opens in Stockholm in 1982 where the ghostly pale Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) lives with his divorced mother in a modernist apartment block. A withdrawn and uncertain child, Oskar is being bullied at school and spends much of his time alone, hanging around the complex’s courtyard, playing with his hunting knife and dreaming of revenge. One night, he notices a new family moving in next door; a young girl around his own age and an older man, probably her father. The next evening, they meet at the playground and she introduces herself as Eli (Lina Leandersson). She is a misfit too, dressed in strange clothes, with filthy hands and casting a strange smell.

Eli lives with Hakan (Per Ragnar), an odd, older man whom the locals assume is her father but he is in fact her familiar, a serial killer she sends out at night to kill on her behalf. As the two become friends, Eli encourages Oskar to stand up to the boys that are bullying him, urging him to strike back or be forever cowed. This he does, with brutal efficiency, his thirst for revenge as strong in its way as her desire for blood. Slowly, the two form a bond, without saying much, sitting together in the courtyard. When she arrives unannounced one night in his bedroom, Oskar asks her to be his girlfriend. “But I am not a girl”, she answers. Later, he finds the courage to ask Eli if she is a vampire. He already knows the answer, and doesn’t care. He has a friend.

Eli being either too small or too vulnerable to feed herself, sends Hakan out to find her meals. This is his job, something he prepares for meticulously, but things sometimes go wrong. Hakan stalks the streets, gassing his victims and draining their blood into a plastic barrel before dragging it home. This is not the sexualised, intimate bite of Dracula or Nosferatu, it is something closer to alcoholism, a desperate desire to drink without sustenance or satisfaction. But Hakan is getting old and careless. Eli, it seems, has more than friendship on her mind; she needs a minder, someone who will do what is required to allow her to live. Is Oskar capable of murder, or is his violence a passing phase? Does Eli really love him, or is their relationship just an elaborate seduction?

Alfredson elegantly places this darkly gothic story against the brutal backdrop of high-rise concrete buildings, snow-covered walkways and empty streets. His carefully framed, calmly static camera seeks out detail everywhere it settles; the tangled colours of a Rubick’s cube, the torn pages of Oskar’s murder scrapbook, the dark splash of blood on snow. His film is beautifully photographed and tautly edited, benefiting from sparse, carefully placed special effects and an indelible atmosphere of threat and promise. His delicate use of sound adds a further dimension to the story, particularly when Oskar and Eli use Morse code to communicate through the walls of their adjoining apartments.

The two young actors perfectly embody their characters; their pale faces, photographed close-up, drawing out deep reserves of pain and isolation with little more than glances and sighs. They give flawless performances as the supposed innocents crafting an escape from lives that have become intolerable and dangerous.

Let The Right One In is a remarkable film, brilliantly conceived and hypnotically told. It makes the recent Twilight look the antics of the number-crunching Count on Sesame Street.

1 comment:

Eremita Inserto said...

I totally agree with your critics about "Let the right one in". It's one of the best films I've seen for a long time, a trully masterpiece.