Review Catch-Up: “Let the Right One In”

February 10, 2009 at 12:54 pm 1 comment

Saw this back in November and just forgot to post my review of it.  So, here it is.

Last year saw the release of the teen phenomenon known as Twilight, to mixed reviews.  Around the same time, select U.S. theatres (generally the arthouse indie kind) got a recent import from Sweden, Let the Right One In, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay).  While I haven’t seen Twilight, I can say with assurance that if you’re going to see just one teen vampire movie, let it be the Swedish one.

Let the Right One In is about Oskar, a young boy who gets picked on by school bullies.  Attributing this to the normal rules of growing up, the parents don’t do too much about it.  Things change when Eli, a peculiar young girl about Oskar’s age, moves next door.  The two strike up a friendship based mostly on the fact that they’re both outsiders.  Oskar’s a punching bag and a pushover, Eli’s shy, doesn’t go to school, and only comes out at night.

Turns out Eli is a vampire.

Their friendship grows as Eli helps Oskar to feel more comfortable with himself, and Oskar basically is the only person Eli talks to (aside from a father figure that lives with her).  What keeps this from being some hammy teen vampire flick and brings it into the realm of film is how you see the characters play everything out.  Oskar and Eli are both around 12 or so years old (well, Eli is considerably older, but she’s still stuck in the mindset of a 12-year-old girl), and you can see how adolescence really begins to affect their relationship.

Also, the supporting cast of characters adds depth to the story.  Eli’s “father figure” may or may not be the father (probably not), but helps Eli stay alive by finding fresh blood for her.  Some of the more suspensful moments come when we watch as he stalks his latest victim in search of blood.  The bullies are your typical school bully type; they always hang together, they’re rich, and individually, they’re a bunch of wimps.  It’s very satisfying to watch Oskar stand up to them.  Keep in mind, this isn’t some horror-action movie like Underworld, nor is it a blood-soaked slasher movie.  For a movie with such a young cast, Let the Right One In is definitely geared toward an older audience.

Visually, this movie appears flawless.  Being set in Sweden in the (presumably) dead of winter, you really get the sense of frigid cold and isolation that the landscape provides.  The cinematography generally sticks to a neutral, cool tone, making every scene look like it was shot in zero-degree weather.

Let the Right One In is not only one of the best films of 2008, but one of the best vampire films I’ve ever seen.  Well paced, superbly acted, and with an ending that’ll leave you speechless, this should be a film any film buff or horror fan should see.


If it’s not playing in your area, the DVD is scheduled to go on sale in March.  Also, there’s an American remake scheduled to go into production some time this year.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ant  |  February 24, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Those most surprising thing was that the two child actors were first-timers. Beautiful film. Can’t wait to add this one to me collection. This was actually my favorite film last year. The most tragic thing was the reveal at the end, that you realize the origins of the presumed “father” and the inescapable fate of her new found love. Amazing.

    Good review.


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