Vampire Week: Movie Review: Let the Right One In

Vampire Week is an event hosted here at T3 to celebrate the release of Holly Black’s

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Click the banner for more information.

Title: Let the Right One In (Swedish version)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Staring: Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson
Release Year: 2008
Genre: Horror
Length: 115 mins (1hr, 55mins)
MPAA Rating: R

Summary:
Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire.
(Taken from IMDb)

Post-“taste” Review:
I really cannot say enough about this film, it is a definite must see, and one of the best vampire stories you will ever experience.

Review:
For Vampire Week here at Tea for Three, I chose to review the film, Let the Right One In, based on the novel of the same name by author John Ajvide Linqvist. Please do not mistake it for it’s American remake Let Me In. While a decent adaptation, I do not feel that it captures the essence or magic of the 2008 Swedish original. Since it’s release, this movie has held me captivated with it’s unique take on the vampire mythos. Quiet and haunting, this film takes everything you think you know about a good vampire story and turns it on it’s head.

It takes place in a obscure village in Sweden, where a young boy by the name of Oskar tries desperately to find some purpose in his twelve year old existence. When a young, dark haired girl by the name of Eli moves in next door, a rather tenuous relationship is formed. Much to the dismay of Eli’s older caretaker. When several locals come up missing or dead, Oskar is forced to question who and what his new friend is. What follows is a tale of friendship, young romance, and survival. What is Oskar willing to do to keep Eli’s secret and what is Eli willing to do to protect Oskar?

LtoR: Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar, Lina Leandersson as Eli

What makes this film so effective is it’s use of classic vampire tropes utilized in ways you’ve never seen before. The film removes a lot of the Transylvania mysticism commonly associated with the vampire, and presents a more gritty and realistic need for a vampires survival. Although there are subtle allusions to the more mysterious elements to a vampire, such as Eli’s aversion to light, and her inability to enter a home without being invited. These things are presented in a way that does not detract from the tone set by the rest of the movie.

Another major and immediately obvious departure from the iconic vampire image, and one of my favorite facets of the film, is Eli herself. So accustomed are we to the image of a tall, dashing, male vampire in the lead; that we forget any other role a vampire can play. This is where the film takes the traditional gender roles, and flips them drastically. In this story it is Oskar that needs rescuing, not Eli. Oskar is smaller than his classmates, he is bullied and tormented, a social outcast. Eli is strong, willing to take action, and not afraid to sacrifice anyone who gets in her way. The juxtaposition of the image of a young twelve year old girl, and the horrendous violence she commits, is incredibly striking and highly unique.

What I also think makes this film so compelling is it’s calm. Scenes exist that do not need words, only scenery and the viewers emotions. So much of the movie is a silent crescendo building to the apex of the movie’s graphic climax. A soft score and Sweden’s austere landscapes creates the atmosphere that holds the film together.

Today’s other Vampire Week post:
Erin interviews herself about vampire novels

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