Let the Right One In (2008, Sweden) Director: Tomas Alfredson Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay, novel) Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl
Based on the 2004 novel Lat Den Ratte Komma In by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay, Let the Right One In is an indie foreign film beautifully shot and told. I’ve only seen two or three dozen foreign films in my time, but I’ve never been let down once by any of them. Let the Right One In ranks up there with the best I’ve seen. And while there are only a small handful of vampire films I thoroughly enjoy: Near Dark, 30 Days of Night, and Salem’s Lot being three of those, you can add Let the Right One In to that list.
The film tells the story of Oskar, a timid bullied preteen, and his relationship with new neighbor, Eli—a girl who shares his age and who is slowly revealed to be a vampire; something we figure out well before Oskar does. The somber winter tone of the film is perfect for setting up the lonely existence that each of the characters face on a daily basis. Eli’s situation is unique, as she relies on a co-conspirator to help supply blood; though completely inadequate at doing his part, she ends up taking things into her own hands. Because of the compassion she has for Oskar, recognizing commonalities they share, we root for her and any help she can provide her new friend, as he too unwaveringly accepts her for who she is.
Though there are some frighteningly creepy scenes throughout, the film is really about the relationship between the two children and how they act as each other’s savior in a world where they feel helplessly alone.
When a movie this subtle brings the horror, the tiniest thing can be a smack in the face that’ll leave you stunned for days. With the use of clever cinematography, haunting imagery will stick with you for weeks. I’m not talking jump scares with spooky faces here. This movie is much more intelligent than that. The bleak tone of the film helps add to the storytelling and mysteriousness of what lies next. This is not a predictable story. Foreign films are like that. They provide something original for us in the states. Case in point, both The Grudge and The Ring, American remakes of Japanese horror, utilize a very common ghostly image in the films: The onryo—a young girl with long black hair dangling in her face. For us it was new and frightening at the time, but for the Japanese it’s so last summer. Let the Right One In feels fresh. And as beautifully told as it is, I would gather it’s just as genuine in Sweden.
I’ve not read the book this film is based on, nor have I seen the American remake so I can make no comparisons. I can only state that I now understand why I’ve seen the Swedish original mentioned in numerous places. This is an excellent piece of cinema that should be appreciated by any fan of the genre and even those who hate the vampire subgenre.
Let The Right One In trailer: