Let the Right One In movie review (original… not the Hollywood remake)

As a horror fan, I’ve been reading issues of Rue Morgue and Fangoria whenever I remember to buy them at my local Barnes & Noble. Both do a great job covering several aspects of the horror field (those being film, fiction, gaming, special effects, and music) and invariably they lead me to interesting horror films that I might not have otherwise heard about through my daily perusing of the Entertainment Weekly pop blog.

For sometime, I’d been hearing about this Swedish film called Let the Right One In. Both magazines proclaimed it to be one of the best vampire movies ever made. Granted, to earn this honor from me would be simple. I can’t say I’ve seen many vampire movies that moved me in any way (no, I’ve not seen Nosferatu). Still, Let the Right One In had better be damn good or my trust in Rue Morgue and Fangoria was going to be permanently dumped in the bin.

The movie is fantastic.

A bullied twelve-year-old boy named Oskar is living in Blackeberg (a suburb of Stockholm) where he stumbles into an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young girl named Eli. Eli, it turns out, has moved in next door with an older man named Håkan. Oskar lives a lonely life with his mother and over time he and Eli form a bond that is both moving and surreal.

The film does something that few horror movies succeed at doing. You care about what is going to happen to Eli and Oskar. Eli, in a sense is a monster and does some horrific things in the movie, but the viewer senses there is more here than just normal vampiric violence. You recognize that these kids are awkward social beings on the verge of adolescence, something all of us dealt with at one time in our lives. They have no family, only each other, yet as kids how can they survive without adults.

Let the Right One In is a quiet film. The dialog is as sparse as the landscape of Blackeberg. There are some truly frightening scenes, plenty of gore, and a final set piece that now stands as one of the most memorable movie scenes I’ve witnessed. The way that the director, Tomas Alfredson, handles vampiric mythology is smart and plays well with the plot.

The movie is derived from the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I give Let the Right One In high praise. Not only did it overcome my built-in distrust of anything ‘vampire’, it also proved to be an effective horror story about being a lonely child.

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