Let the Right One In
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre.
Review by: Larry Thomas
Remember the opening scene of the movie version of The Twilight Zone, where Dan Ackroyd turns to Albert Brooks and says, “you wanna see something really scary?” There’s a really scary movie on the horizon, and it’s not a serial killer, it’s not another version of Saw. It is…believe it or not…a pre-teen Swedish vampire movie. It’s called Let the Right One In, and had I seen it a month ago, it would have made the top of my ten best list for 2008. Now it will have to wait until next time to achieve that honor.
Oskar is a 12-year-old middle school student. He is picked on and bullied by the other boys. He lives in a middle-class apartment building, and one night notices new tenants moving in…an older man, and a young girl. While sitting in the playground area of the building, he is approached by 12-year-old Eli, who is in this frozen landscape without so much as a sweater. He develops an innocent crush, and they begin to spend more time together. What he doesn’t know yet is that Eli is a vampire, and the older man is her servant, much like Dracula’s manservant. His task is to help provide her with fresh blood to sustain her existence.
What follows is an incredible exercise in style by director Tomas Alfredson, quality filmmaking from the behind-the-camera talent, and terrific performances from the two young thespians charged with bringing these lead characters to life…so to speak. The stark whiteness of a Swedish winter will not only chill you to the bone, it’s gorgeous to look at, especially with shadowy lighting and deep-focus cinematography. Several of the scenes will definitely “creep you out” with their eerie undercurrent, highlighted by the tenseness of the original score.
As a horror film centered on young children, Let the Right One In reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth. It’s a horror film…a coming-of-age tale…a story of friendship…all tied up in an eye-popping screen event. Unlike Pan's Labyrinth, however, this film is only making the rounds of the art houses instead of the plexes. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have to go to see it wherever you can. As usual, rather than try to make the most of a great film that’s already made, the Hollywood corporoids have purchased the remake rights so they can churn out the usual American retread, which will likely be no where near the quality of the original.
Yes, it’s subtitled. But that’s ok…reading is good for you. Yes, it has its moments of blood and gore. But that’s ok…underneath the surface is a very tender love story. And yes, it’s a masterpiece. Let the Right One In is an unsettling, spellbinding, touching, and frightening film. It is quite likely one of the three or four best vampire movies ever made.