“Let the Right One In” – Chris Luedtke

The vampire genre is arguably the most overkilled part of horror out there. There’s something oddly romantic about a blood-sucking, undead creature that stalks its prey in the shadows of night. Many mainstream movies and books of late have managed to just water down the romantic style, making it more of a bad teeny-bopper joke. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some strong-standing pieces that remain so even after the Hollywood wrecking ball comes crashing through.

Let the Right One In is the delicate tale of twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a boy regularly bullied at school that dreams of vengeance against his aggressors. One day, he gets a new neighbor: Eli (Lina Leandersson). However, Eli is very odd. She’s never out during the day, doesn’t go to school, gets sick when she eats, and never wears shoes outside. But when the body count in the town begins to rise and people are being found drained of their blood, eyes begin to peer Eli’s way, and Oskar begins to understand what Eli truly is.

Let the Right One In is easily the best vampire film since Shadow of the Vampire. Director Thomas Alfredson brings a dark cold world to a beautiful light. The piece is far from the likes of a lot of the vampire films we see today, such as Twilight or 30 Days of Night. The film takes simple cues from other vampire stories: sunlight kills, invitations inside are absolute, blood is necessary, and after all this remains true to its own style as a fable that’s beautiful, warming, cold, and harrowing.

The plot in Let the Right One In isn’t so much of a plot as it is a look at Oskar growing up. The world around him is opening up as he begins to step out of adolescence. While he’s taking these pivotal steps, Eli is there to give him a shove to descend the stairs. His maturity is central to what happens throughout. The way he deals with his mother and father, how he reacts to Eli as a girl, and how he deals with being bullied around. The growth and flow is so natural, it brings the delicacy of youth to the film’s snow-capped streets and spills the blood in some of the most vital and interesting ways, forcing Oskar (and us) to see the world through both strength and weakness.

The acting here is amazing. Hedebrant and Leandersson steal the show with their amazing chemistry. When either one of these characters is onscreen, we don’t even think twice about whether or not we’re watching a film; these two give us an experience in youth and horror that is unlikely to be forgotten soon. Their friendship/romance is real, and the way their characters interact is both natural and confusing. The things they say and do, the way they grow — all are things that any of us who have grown past elementary school can relate to.

Let the Right One In is quite a piece of work that is appears to be growing by word of mouth and for the right reasons. One could say that this is the Pan’s Labyrinth of the vampire genre, because of its very fairy tale feel. If you’re sick and tired of the current trend in vampire films, then I highly recommend you see Let the Right One In and get a nice refresher on a genre that is just rotting in the casket. If you do enjoy the current slew of vampire films, still check this one out. It’s bound to become a genre classic.

Rating: ★★★★

-Chris Luedtke

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