Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I had heard quite a lot about this little gem from Sweden ‘Let The Right One in’ as it turned up on ‘best of’ list after ‘best of’ list for 2008 and yet I still haven’t had the chance to see it. Finally I have seen ‘Let the Right One in’ and even though there are like 1,463 reviews of this movie in print and an on the Internets, there is about to 1,463 plus 1 because Lord knows I hate to be left out of a party. Plus there’s apparently a Hollywood remake in the pipe and I have to be on record somewhere in space letting the world know on what a bad idea a glitzy remake of this movie could potentially be.

Our heart goes out to poor little Oskar (Kare Hedebrandt). First off this place he lives in Sweden somewhere doesn’t seem to have anything remotely approaching ‘spring’ since it’s snowy all the time, Oskar is scrawny and looks like a girl which gets him mercilessly picked on at school leaving Oskar dreaming of murdering his tormentors, his parents are divorced and it is inferred that they are divorced because somewhere along the line Oskar’s dad decided he was a homosexual. Oskar has more issues but this is enough to illustrate that the boy isn’t having the world’s greatest adolescence right about now.

One night while the boy was practicing the visualization of gutting one his classmates, some people move into an adjacent apartment. The odd thing about this is that the apparent patriarch of the apartment cardboards the windows shut. Peculiar indeed. Oskar meets the little girl of the house a couple of nights later, this time while dreaming of murdering a classmate by stabbing a tree. Yes, a definite theme is progressing here. The girls name is Eli (Lina Leandersson), she’s twelve years old – more or less, she smells funny – I don’t know – like death perhaps, and she walks out in the bitter cold with no coat or shoes. Peculiar indeed. Eli tells Oskar they can’t be friends but they become friends anyway. Eli tells Oskar he will continue to get picked on unless he

fights back. Eli promises to be there if things get too ill with Oskar’s battle with his tormentors. Oskar gets a big old schoolboy crush on Eli even though Eli informs Oskar that she / he / it / is not a girl. Oskar decides to take a blood oath with his newfound girlfriend by cutting his hand, which is like taking a fried chicken oath with Colonel Sanders and expecting him not to eat the chicken. Damn if the girl / boy / thing / ain’t a vampire, a tragic fact a couple of residents of this small cold town have found out already.

But Oskar is a lonely boy, and vampire or not, this thing has showed him some much needed attention, has kind of toughened the boy up a bit and like it promised it would be, it was a friend in need indeed.

Directed by Thomas Alfredson based on a book by John Ajvide Lindqvist who adapted his novel for the screenplay, ‘Let The Right One In’ is indeed a very good film. Methodically paced, deliberate, dark, depressing and brooding to be sure, but still a very fine and striking work of art. It seems to be that almost everything in this movie is inferred and open ended in one way or another. I mention that Oskar’s father is gay, but it’s never stated just merely inferred. Eli’s sex is also ambiguous up to her name. She says she’s not a girl but does that mean that she’s a boy or that she’s neither because she’s no longer human? There’s a quick shot of Oskar peeping in on Eli changing which reveals to us a stitched up pubic area which could mean a number of things. Perhaps this mutilation was self inflicted since a hapless little girl would gather more sympathy than a boy. While we are never told in the film who this ‘father figure’ of Eli’s is we can infer… or at least I can, that he at one time was a pathetic boy similar to Oskar who has aged while his paramour has stayed the same. Or maybe not. This is one of the things I enjoyed about this film in that a lot of the movie is open ended but we are given enough information through the imagery and sparse dialog to at least draw some reasonable conclusions about what we have seen.

Both child actors delivered a pair of remarkable understated and sympathetic performances, especially considering the slippery slope of one child being a killer and another who would like nothing more than to be one. The atmosphere surrounding the lives of these children was also well presented and lent itself well to furthering and clarifying the story and the supporting characters.

‘Let the Right One In’ is a film that is certainly worthy of the praise it has received as it is storytelling at its best. It exploits the visual medium of film but gives itself enough room to allow your imagination to work as well.

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