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Review: Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In (2008)

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Premise: A Swedish film about a twelve-year-old boy (Kåre Hedebrant) who makes friends with the girl next door who happens to be a vampire (Lina Leandersson).

What Works: Let the Right One In is primarily a film about loneliness and isolation and how people may turn to evil in the pursuit of love and belonging. The unlikely friendship between Oskar, a twelve year old boy who is bullied at school, and Eli, a vampire who is two hundred years old but has the body of a twelve year old girl, starts off sweet and conveys a lot of authenticity that makes the fantastic elements of the story acceptable and almost incidental. The film is able to sell the vampirism of the story by eliminating nearly all of the clichés or recognizable traits of a vampire film; no one wears a cape or bares their fangs or sleeps in a coffin. Most of the supernatural powers of the vampire occur just off screen, which avoids the kinds of synthetic looking special effects that can take a viewer out of the picture. As the story goes on it becomes clear that while Eli may have some feelings for Oskar, she is also grooming him to become a killer so that he will become her companion and bring her the blood she needs to feed. The film envelops itself in moral ambiguity, as the two prey upon school yard bullies and those who would destroy Eli, but her victims also include the innocent and by the time the film reaches its conclusion, Eli and Oskar have forged a bond that is as emotionally resonant as it is intellectually and ethically problematic.

What Doesn’t: Some viewers might find Let the Right One In to be a frustrating film because it does not adhere to typical vampire conventions nor does it provide the viewer with simplistic notions of good and evil.

DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, image gallery, trailers.

Bottom Line: Let the Right One In is a great film and a unique entry in the vampire genre. The complexity of the characters and the way the film mingles love with violence elevates this film far above what has recently passed for vampire films.

Episode: #259 (October 11, 2009)