Review: ‘Let the Right One In’

‘Tweens everywhere beware! Forget all that Twilight stuff, because this story far more likely illustrates what would happen when a seemingly under-aged vampire moves in next door (hint: no one’s going to the prom).

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) has some trouble with the boys at school who pick on him. He dreams of being strong and powerful, even carrying a knife and practicing what he would say to them if he ever gained the courage to use it. Enter Eli (Lina Leandersson), a young girl about Oskar’s age who moves in next door but who only comes out at night. Eli seems drawn to Oskar but warns him away from her from the first moment they first meet. It isn’t long, however, before neither can deny their infatuation with one another, but with evidence mounting and a body count on the rise, Oskar begins to wonder just how long Eli has been twelve years old… and living off the blood of others.

From Swedish director Tomas Alfredson based on a novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In tells a story of love and revenge with all the trapping of a Grimm fairy tale. Make no mistake; this is a pure horror film that deals out violent imagery with little or no warning. That said, it is the unlikely but growing relationship between the main characters that fuels the plot, luring even the audience into making excuses for a bloodsucking monster that happens to look like a lonely twelve year old girl.

Set in small town during the winter, the mood and tone are similar to 30 Days of Night, only instead of being cut off from the world technologically, the townsfolk have socially isolated themselves. From Oskar’s parents being separated to the ease that Oskar’s bullies move unchecked around the school property, it’s no wonder the only friend or connection he can make is with another lonely soul, monster or not. The question that must be answered is, can he forgive her for being what she is merely because it’s better than being alone? That’s right… blood AND existentialism.

The film isn’t perfect and in fact takes quite a bit of time to get started, but watch the beginning carefully because it will answer the questions you’ll be left with when the credits roll. There are also a few questionable scenes that border on what many would call child pornography, but being a reason for it in the film doesn’t make it any less disturbing. What works for the film is the chemistry between its two young stars and a reckless abandon for random outbursts of violence and horror. Isn’t love and revenge wonderful?

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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