Let the Right One In
- 115 min
- English subtitles
This is one of the best vampire films I have ever seen and – if I’m not mistaken – the first one to be shown at Pluk. Horror is normally not in the Pluk programming, but Let The Right One In is no ordinary horror film. According to some, it’s not even horror, but a psychological drama that happens to have a vampire in it.
There is a lot to say for that last interpretation of the movie. Above all, Let The Right One In is a Swedish children’s film, and is as hard, cruel and terrifying as children can be in all their honesty and realism. The vampire is a twelve year old girl. Well, Eli was that age when she became a vampire anyway and she still looks that way. Eli has been twelve years old for a long time now.
She hesitatingly becomes friends with a neighbour boy, Oskar. He is a human being made of flesh and blood, although he is miraculously white, almost see through. This forms a magnificent contrast with her black eyes and black hair. But besides this, nothing in the story is black and white.
Oskar’s being bullied at school and would like to fight back (out of frustration he practises with a knife on a tree), but he freezes when he comes eye to eye with his demons. His parents are divorced, he doesn’t see his father much; he is at home alone a lot. The story is filmed very realistically which makes it painful; being bullied in a Swedish children’s film is even a bit worse than being bullied in a Dutch children’s film.
The girl is having a hard time too, and the most special thing about Let The Right One In is that her problems are taken just as seriously as his. Her problems are not being pulled into the absurd or ridiculous and they don’t become less bad because they are metaphysical fragments of imagination. Director Tomas Alfredson (Pluk showed his film Four Shades of Brown in 2004) succeeds to present Eli’s desire for blood, her ability to make huge jumps and her sensitivity to sunlight as mere facts, as things she did not ask for, but she has to deal with anyhow. Similar to how Oskar did not ask for his parent’s divorce or the bullies at school.
By taking vampirism seriously, Alfredson is entering into a new terrain. All of a sudden it seems logical to go to – it is dark there for much longer. Why isn’t the place flooded with vampires then? And when you suck all the blood out of someone, you have to ditch the body somewhere – that is, if you don’t want to be moving all the time. Eli gets some help from a shady grown-up man, who kills lonely passerbies without any passion or hate, and lets them bleed out in order to feed her.
It is all being captured wonderfully and easy by the Dutch-Swedish cameraman Hoyte van Hoytema, who strokes the faces and bodies of the two children with his camera evoking an intimate and even erotic tension. You should see the film if only for the imagery, but it is the story (based on the eponymous Swedish bestseller by John Ajvide Lindqvist) which makes Let The Right One In write vampire film history.
Text: KD / Translation: NO