Let the Right One In (2008) (R)
"Let the Right One In", a Swedish vampire movie, is a moody and heavy piece that you will either love or hate. It's artistic almost to a fault and very beautiful to look at.
Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), is a twelve-year old boy who likes the dark side (we're not talking about 'the force'). He clips out headlines that bring news of gruesome and/or peculiar deaths and saves them in a scrapbook. Blond hair, incredibly white skin, and as skinny as you can imagine—he is the recipient of the attention of bullies at his school, in particular a boy named Conny (Patrik Rydmark).
In the opening scene of the movie, Oskar fantasizes about beating the bully up. Squeal like a pig he demands of his imaginary victim. This young boy has no power and would love to have roles reversed.
A next door neighbor has just moved in, a man with a little girl—father and daughter...maybe.
Oskar lives with his mother—his father is elsewhere and Oskar only gets a few days to spend with his dad.
The film, near the beginning, has decidedly no real plot. It floats around and cements a few themes: Oskar's need for violence, a gap between parents and children, the hunger of those who cannot feed, and dedication bordering on obsession.
To escape the adult world, Oskar likes to take nighttime walks around the courtyard of the apartments where he lives and that's where he meets the girl next door, Eli (Lina Leandersson). Eli is very bizarre and other-worldly. She only comes out at night and whose appearance declines when she doesn't eat.
It's very soon that we figure out that Eli is a vampire, but the film is insistent on never using the word "vampire"—I think that it only appears once in the entire movie.
Eli is a slave to her own body, she has to feed and if she doesn't she'll die or become so ravenous that she will slay several people.
Oskar and Eli become great friends and soon Eli starts giving Oskar advice about how to deal with the bullies. Their friendship blooms and they are soon spending most of their time together.
"Let the Right One In" is not a vampire movie, nor is it a horror movie—those just happen to be the canvases on which the real story is painted. The core of the movie isn't a love story, but it's close. It's the young adolescent, unknowing version of love.
The film has a way of not talking—it's very similar to "No Country for Old Men" in that respect. It's also a very quiet movie—it allows you to hear simple noises like the smacking of lips or the grumbling of stomachs.
Now these vampires aren't "Twilight" friendly, model blood-suckers. They're real, fragile in a way, and haunted. I would argue that "Let the Right One In" portrays vampires in a different light than any other work preceding it.
Hedebrant has to be commended, because he carries the movie. I do think that some choices with the script hurt the film regarding his character. The lines are too drawn out and they aren't crisp enough to feel real. The emotion that the film wants to have is what sinks it.
It's quite boring in parts.
That being said, as previous stated, it's great to look at. This film would have been a knockout if it were based on looks alone.
There is also a strength in the intelligence of the script—most notably the aversion to the cliche moments that vampires usually have.
Leandersson is stunning as Eli—a fine performance. She embodies the age and maturity of someone older than her, while still being true to her young form.
All-in-all, "Let the Right One In" is good but not great.
Score: 3 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones