“What happens if you walk in anyway?” Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

Let The Right One IN

Vampires are attacking from all directions! Or should I say all mediums. We have adult vampires on TV in True Blood, teen vampires in print and on the big screen in Twilight, and now we have child vampires in Tomas Alfredson’s film Let The Right One In. There’s a vampire out there for everyone! And believe it or not, an American remake of Let The Right One is already in the works. I imagine it got green-lit before anyone even saw this film. The studio execs must have heard it had vampires and signed it off immediately. I wonder if I pitched a film about vampires in a retirement village would it get picked up by the Weinsteins?

Let The Right One In is a Swedish romance-horror-drama adapted from the book Let Me In by author John Ajvide Lindqvist. It tells the story of Oskar, an only child raised by a single mother who is bullied at school. Its not surprising he finds it hard to relate to other kids as his interests include keeping a scrap-book of newspaper articles about muders and massacres, and doing Travis Bickle impressions to trees. Oskar does find a friend in Eli, a strange young girl who has just moved next door and the film revolves around their deepening relationship.

This film is riding a huge wave of critical acclaim. Granted, it is a well-conceived hybrid of genre and art film, which will no doubt appeal to both audiences. However, I felt sometimes Alfredson failed in maintaining a consistent tone, at one minute the film resembled Kieslowski, the next Guillermo del Toro. I also had beef with the intrusive score, particularly when it overwhelmed the more suspenseful scenes. These scenes worked better when utilising silence and evocative sound design as displayed in the two best scenes, a hospital farewell and the brilliantly choreographed climax.

Maybe it is because of the hype but I can’t say this film particularly overwhelmed me. I do however see its appeal as an accessible foreign language film that will impress a lot of people, in the way the likes of Pans Labyrinth did. The kids do a great job, particularly Lina Leandersson as Eli, her weary eyes giving her the appearance of having knowledge beyond her years. If you are a vampire fan I recommend it, it certainly gets marks for originality within a genre that is slowly exhausting itself. 

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