Let the Right One In is the finest vampire film. After viewing it, you may have a different opinion, and if you do I’d like to hear it. I don’t think that you will.
This Swedish film from last year is suspenseful, artistic, edgy, and beautifully made. All the boundaries of the genre are now broken and all the stupid cliches so common in vampire films, shattered by this film.
The film is directed with subtlety. The actors downplay all their roles, playing everything straight as daggers. The vampire in this film is a lovely, distraught, lonely 12-year old girl. She meets her neighbor, a 12-year old boy out in the playground in the courtyard of their apartment complex in the middle of the night. Snow is everywhere. It’s clearly freezing, but it’s beautiful, too. The boy has a rubick’s cube, his new friend doesn’t know what it is. She seems outside of existence, not involved in daily life, the commonalities of existence – things that most 12-year olds should know. She clearly does not belong, anywhere.
The boy a quiet, thin, lonely, bright blond fellow named Oscar says, “Here, I’ll show you how to do this.” He gives her a rudimentary lesson on the rubick’s cube, and he gives it to her. The next day he goes into the courtyard to look for his new mysterious dark friend and there is the rubick’s cube, entirely solved.
He says, “I can’t understand how you could do this.”
She replies, “I just did it.”
What follows is a very deeply felt building friendship between the two 12-year olds. The little girl, Ellie, is clearly not well. She is pale and wan, and cannot keep down any food. There are murders (not graphic), and bizarre events in the town involving attacks on people who are savagely bitten at the neck. The violence is not excessive and is understated. One scene where a woman who was bitten by Ellie arrives at a friend’s house is amazing. The friend has 20 cats in his apartment. All of them attack the woman in one of the more bizarre scenes in recent film.
The growing friendship and love between the two young people are at the center of this film, which makes it something special. This is a beautifully shot movie, it’s a treat for the eyes. The dialogue is clipped, minimalist, almost like a Mammet play but much more realistic. There is a confusion of morality in this movie which adds to its complexity.
Ellie is a killer, but she is also very sick. The viewer starts to see her as a tragic hero, and the two of them in a tragic friendship. We keep saying, “how can she live?” But the success of the film is in the fact that the reply must be, “She must live! There must be a way that she can overcome this nightmare life.” And perhaps there is, but we will never know it. Ellie is not evil, she is actually quite good.
Oscar slowly begins to realize that there is something very strange and not-quite-right about Ellie. He asks her, “Are you a vampire?” She says yes. Later, he repeats his earlier question, “How old are you?” She says, “12, but I’ve been 12 for a long long time.” Ellie is trapped at 12. There is something deeply attractive about her character and her love of life while she destroys others so that she can survive.
The starkness of the Swedish scenery and the snow covered fields lend a clear, cold realism to her plight.
“Let the Right One In” is not flighty chick flick vampire fare, nor does it owe anything to any previous vampire or horror movie. This film seems to stand on its own outside of the ongoing fascination with vampires in the film world. This is a beautiful movie that happens to be about a gory vampire. The center of this film is a relationship between two very lonely children who find each other when they both so desparately need a friend.
This is a brilliant film. “Let the Right One In” will not affect your feelings, if you have any, on vampire movies. This film is outside the genre just skirting its edges though one of the main characters is a vampire. This is not a vampire movie, it is something special something so unusual that I sat to watch it though I despise the genre entirely.
I cannot say that I loved this movie, but I respect it deeply. I think it very successful on many levels.
While I cannot say I loved the movie, I can say that I loved the main characters, and that is something that I rarely can or do say.