Something unique happened to me. It’s a little disconcerting and yet wholly wonderful and a cause for great hope: I actually saw a film with originality. That’s right, you heard it here, folks. Despite its’ awkward title, “Let the Right One In”, is a film that offers something new. Or shall I say, it takes an existing genre and presents it in a way we haven’t ever seen previously.
In short, this is both a coming-of-age story, and a vampire film. Oskar is a 12 year old boy who is lonely and is bullied by kids at school. Then one night, a new and mysterious girl moves in next door to him and his mother in their apartment building. They strike up a tenuous relationship at first, but it soon becomes something more. And, in time, we find that this girl, Eli, is quite different.
This movie plays like a touching story of that first girl you had a crush on as you were about to become a teenager. There are the awkward moments of Oskar asking her how she could be 12, “more or less” and not getting an answer, or trying to do something nice for Eli by giving her candy (that she can’t keep down). Oskar doesn’t know what she is, when he asks her if she would like to “go steady”.
But make no mistake, this is also a horror film. Eli is a vampire and blood is what she needs to survive. She’s been 12 years old a very long time. There are some dark and bloody moments in this film and they are wonderful and unique. You might even wince once or twice.
There is such an amazing atmosphere here, as the film is shot in winter and there is often snowfall at night, and strange, eerie silences. It makes for solemn and creepy moods. And the film explores childhood fears, frailties and fantasies with such aplomb; it is both moving and frightening.
There are certainly some traditional vampire elements used here, but you’ve never seen them in the context offered here. And something I don’t think has ever been shown in a vampire movie: Have you ever wondered what would happen if a vampire entered a room without being invited? Well you’re going to find out if you see this film, and it’s a bit unnerving.
All the acting is wonderful, though keep in mind it’s all subtitled. But there aren’t any long strings of dialogue, it’s all very succinct, so any of you whiners that don’t like to read your movies shouldn’t complain. The only thing I might say is that the movie is very mood heavy and does not move very briskly. Short attention span theater this is not.
This film won Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival and Best Horror Film at Austin Fantastic Film Festival, among others, and I can see why. This really is a great film and I’m happy to have finally seen something I can praise. After the crap fest that was “Saw V”, and the mediocrity of “Max Payne”, it’s a pleasure to know that someone still knows how to make an old genre fresh again.
This is a wonderful, unique, creepy, strangely touching film that I highly recommend.
—Neil T. Weakley, your very happy movie goer, for a change.