Disclaimer: I have attempted to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, with varying success.
Let the Right One In is a film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It’s a film about vampires, in a Swedish suburb in the 1970’s/1980’s, judging by the characters’ garb. Now then, what would make this movie worth watching? Let me tell you… It’s really bloody good!
What separates Let the Right One In from the rest of the dubious collection of vampire flicks, is that in many ways, it’s a “realistic” vampire movie. For once, vampires are portrayed as they were originally meant to be: Intelligent beings that prey on human to survive. That’s it. No stupid mutation/biotech/whatever “vampires”, nor fruity sexed-up Anne Rice goth-rave mascara monsters. The portrayal of vampires in Let the Right One In is quite close to the original supernatural, mysterious parasites, while retaining a personality.
The main characters of the movie are Oskar, a more or less messed-up 12-year old boy who is bullied in school, and Eli, who appears to be a 12-year old girl. The story follows the developments of Oskar’s life from the point when Eli becomes his neighbor, and how Oskar attempts to deal with his problems at home and at school. At the same time we are given insights to Eli’s day to day existence, revealing a less-than glamorous (un)life. The story is quite unique in the world of vampire movies, due to geographical location, age of the main characters, and the emphasis on their interaction with each other and the world.
The acting is consistently of high quality, as are the cinematography and the sound. The use of CGI is also (mostly) very conservative, and this feeling pervades the entire movie. The characters are complex and believable. Cliché’s are avoided (except obviously some of those relating to traditional vampires). Nearly everything is played down to rather realistic levels, which makes the gore all the more striking in comparison to the rest of the movie. This results in a rather visceral experience on the few occasions that it is employed, and restraint has resulted in something that feels much more professional than what you’d expect if the same story was told by Hollywood(enter gas explosions, and gimmicky use of vampires and CGI).
Which leads me to the obvious gripe that this movie is destined to get a (in all likelihood, vastly inferior) Hollywood remake. I blame people too lazy to read subtitles, and Hollywood’s compulsion to remake those crazy forrreign films the proper American way. Probably with explosions, teen “romance” and… fuck it. Moving on…
Let the Right One In is a bit of an oddball of a movie, if you go in expecting a usual vampire movie. It’s far more cerebral, and for the observant viewer, manages to retain a higher level of menace and disturbing connotations than any vampire movie I remember off-hand. It’s not just a good vampire movie, it’s a good movie. Everyone with even the most cursory interest should definitely see it. Who knows, you’ll probably like it.
Oh, and these vampires don’t sparkle.
Verdict: Epic Win (just Win if vampires aren't really your thing)