LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In, aka Låt den Rätte Komma In

Vampire movies are the in thing right now. Twilight, for example. Teenage girls up and down the land are currently squeaking in delight as the slab-faced Robert Pattinson has a strangely chaste romance with some 14yr old girl involving lots of meaningful looks and cries of "Don't do that! I might do a sex wee bite you in the neck!" Don't bother watching the film, read the script instead.

Let The Right One In is cut from very different cloth. The simplest way to describe it would be a film that's based around a more gothy/emo version of Kirsten Dunst's Claudia from Interview With a Vampire. If Anne Rice's novel had been adapted by a respected European director instead of Neil Jordan, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt then the result would be something very much like Let The Right One In.

If you watched this film cold, with no prior knowledge or preconceptions, you'd think you were watching a glacially paced family drama by Lukas Moodysson or Lasse Hallstrom. A young blonde boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) ekes out a lonely existence in Blackeburg, a Swedish housing development just outside Stockholm, in 1982 (I have no idea why they chose this particular period and location, but I'm guessing it's to do with the original source novel).

He's bullied, he appears to be slightly weird (he has an obsession with stabbing trees, for a start), and his parents are divorced. So when he plays outside alone in the snow one evening, he's slightly perturbed to meet a young girl of his own age, wearing barely any clothing but not at all bothered by the cold. Her name is Eli, and she seems old beyond her years, yet strangely naive.

That's the setup. Now, in the hands of any American film studio, the plot would resolve itself in predictable fashion - but this is basically a European arthouse film which just happens to feature a 12 year old vampire girl. The film focuses mostly on Oskar's lonely, introverted life, and his suffering at the hands of bullies. When he is encouraged by Eli to fight back against the bullies, he does so with unexpected consequences, and all the characters are set on a path that leads to a tragic and unsettling final sequence in a swimming pool. Along the way, we're treated to the most realistic portrayal of vampires on film since Katherine Bigelow's Near Dark.

If there's one thing I would say lets this film down, it's the bit with the cats. For a film that uses so little bombastic FX or overt gore, the appearance of CGI is jarring.

But overall, Let The Right One is a masterful film that evokes an atmosphere of terrible sadness, both for Eli's stoic suffering over centuries, and for Oskar's tragic hairstyle. This film has lots of snow and lots of knitted jumpers, both punctuated with short, savage outbursts of bloodletting.

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