Holy crap this movie is awesome.
From Sweden comes a vampire flick that basically blows all the competition out of the water. Let the Right One In is haunting, hilarious, horrifying and beautiful all at the same time.
12 year old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) isn’t having a good time at school. He has no friends and is relentlessly bullied by the bigger kids. He spends most of his time outside of school collecting newspaper clippings of the bloody and macabre kind, and practicing stabbing his enemies with a knife in the tree outside his block of flats. It’s a bold portrayal of adolescent isolation, and one that a mainstream western flick wouldn’t touch with a ten foot stake. He finally makes a friend when Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in, a girl his own age who actually isn’t a girl at all. Or his age for that matter.
So many things about this film are perfect. The cinematography is stunning – the snowy landscapes are harsh and forbidding, forcing all the humans to restrict their movement and constantly rug up, but this of course presents no problem for Eli. The framing is at times extraordinary – especially considering that the filmmakers were working with kids. There are at least a dozen moments of cinematographic genius, yet it never feels too flashy.
The performances are fantastic also. Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål), another Swedish film dealing with adolescent isolation, cultivated perfectly natural performances from its leads, and that’s exactly what happens here, too. You never feel that these kids are acting – they’re living it. Eli is one of the most incredible vampiric creations ever captured on film. Leandersson manages to make her simultaneously innocent, bloodthirsty, cutesy and horrendous. More importantly, she never shifts from one archetype to the next. Forget Jekyll and Hyde dichotomies, she’s a monster and child all in one.
The story is fascinating, insofar as it’s hard to guess where it’s going to end. It almost feels as if writer John Ajvide Lindqvist created the characters and the setting, then simply sat back to watch what would happen. The narrative never feels contrived – simply heading towards a natural conclusion – and it works perfectly in a medium that is so often predictable.
If this film were to have any flaw, it’s that it once or twice got a little too silly. I realise it’s a vampire film, but it spent such a long time being so believable that when we were suddenly assaulted with CGI and larger than life situations, it didn’t feel quite right. In retrospect, however, these scenes fit perfectly.
You might think that this has some similarities to a recent, enormously successful vampire flick, but there’s no comparison. This is easily the best vampire film of the last 15 years (no prize for the person that guesses the film at the other end of that timeline). It’s terrifying and beautiful and pushes the genre to new heights.Rating: