Review

Let The Right One In

Director    Tomas Alfredson
Starring    KŚre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist
Release    24 OCT (US) 10 APR (UK)    Certificate 15
5 stars

Steven

4th May 2009

The world hasn't come down yet from the whole Twilight extravaganza: not only is the sequel in production, it seems that they are getting ready to prepare parts three and four of the franchise. But before Twilight fever sinks its fangs in us again, along comes a vampire movie cut from a different cloth entirely.

Let the Right One In is a Swedish-made film set in the early eighties. A young boy named Oskar (Hedebrant) lives with his Mother in a block of flats. Oskar is the bullied kid at school, although he doesn't spend so much time running from fights as just standing there waiting to absorb them. The frustration of being the odd child at school makes itself known when we see Oskar pretending to inflict damage on an invisible bully. 'Troubled Youth' doesn't even cover it.

Then, one night, 12 year old girl Eli (Leandersson) and her older guardian Hakan (Ragnar) move in next door. Eli has her own problems in life that separate her from the world, namely that she's a vampire. But instead of a wishy-washy romance between the two youngsters, we get a tender friendship that develops into a bond of trust and ultimately dependency.

Let The Right One In is a horror film, remember, and some of the more exciting and gruesome scenes really deliver. The film is clever enough not to give away too much too early, but you start to realise just how much of a beast Eli really is and what she is capable off. An early attack sees her merely bite into someone's neck. Soon she is bounding up walls of buildings and by the end you realise just how powerful a being she truly is. The film does become more graphic as it proceeds, but there is enough left to the imagination for the horror to truly work on you.

It may sound all serious, but there are some great moments of levity that balance the film's grim drama and frightening horror. Eli's guardian Hakan has to go out on a regular basis to fetch her blood to live on and his bumbling clumsiness leads to moments of very dark humour. If you are also a fan of bad eighties fashions and hairstyles then this film has plenty of that as well to either make you cringe, or remember (and then cringe).

What really registers though is the story itself and the characters inhabiting it. The two young leads do sterling work and make the relationship believable without ever sugar-coating a dark and disturbing tale. Let The Right One In even finds time to address vampire mythology, shining new light on the whole "A vampire cannot enter unless you invite them" and what happens when that rule is broken.

Original and beautifully tragic all the same, Let the Right One In delivers where most sucky-sucky, kissy-kissy vampire tales do not. It doesn't have cheekbones or hair gel or abstinence metaphors like Twilight, but damn if it isn't the finest vampire movie in a generation.

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