**This review contains spoilers**
Having recently watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I seemed to be having my own Swedish film festival when I received Let The Right One In from my rental list.
Let The Right One In is a very different animal to the mainstream detective/thriller of TGWTDT. It has the look and feel of a quirky indie movie, but it does have the sophisticated special effects that a horror such as this deserves.
The story is of Oskar, a 12 year old loner who, whilst being relentlessly bullied at school, dreams of exacting brutal revenge. One night, new neighbours move in next door. Seemingly, they are father and daughter. She is Eli and she too is 12…more or less.
They meet at their building’s municipal play area and cautiously hit it off. Whilst Oskar may seem to be a little eccentric, Eli is positively strange. She does not feel the cold, only comes out at night and smells funny; on top of that the old guy, Hakan, that lives with her (it is now apparent that he is not her father) is out and about town, slaughtering people and draining their blood. Eli is a vampire.
Far from becoming a monster movie, this develops into a poignant romance between Oskar and Eli as they both have to come to terms with who they are and how they live. There is a true innocence to both of the characters that enables them to develop a touching relationship without it becoming contrived.
There are killings and there are gory moments, but by and large this is a film about young love. So, when their relationship, and Eli’s existence, is threatened, it is them that we root for; which is remarkable considering the horrific demise of Eli’s victims. Vampirism is definitely shown here as a curse, but not one that cannot be worked around, as Eli is testament to. This is helped enormously by the unwavering devotion of Eli’s guardian, Hakan, who somewhat bungles his way through a series of attempts to garner the blood that Eli needs to survive and pays the ultimate sacrifice.
Oskar has his issues too. His involvement with Eli boosts his confidence and he does deal with the bullies, to a point; although this comes back to him tenfold in the final climactic scenes. Perhaps I read too much into a segment of the movie where Oskar is staying with his father and his father’s friend comes over, but I detected an undercurrent theme of abuse at the hands of said friend, which took Oskar’s life on to another level of sadness.
The final scene which sees Oskar and Eli effectively riding off into the sunset led me to think that perhaps 50 years previous to this, Hakan was 12 years old and was devoted to Eli in the same way; in which case the cycle has begun again. This means that their love is ultimately futile, as Oskar will age and Eli will not.
Although the movie has been critically acclaimed, I found the direction to be rather dawdling with far too many long cuts of skies, dripping taps, etc. While this might add to the indie feel of the movie, I saw no obvious reasons for the shots other than padding the running time. Let this not detract from what was a movie that will stay with me for some time.
Apparently, a US remake is on the cards. I see no reason why that is necessary or how this would be adapted to suit an American setting, presuming that is their plan. Although with Gus Van Sant or Larry Clark at the helm, I could see the potential.
My Rating: 3/5