Let the Right One In
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Genre: Horror, Drama
Running Time: 115 minutes
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The world is a painful place if you are alone. We all yearn to be understood, wanted, acknowledged and appreciated. But what happens when you are completely isolated? It becomes hard to trust anyone. It becomes hard to let people in.
‘Let the Right One In’ is a harrowing tale of loneliness and love. It dances on the line between optimism and cynicism, so carefully that it could end up falling on either side. However, it maintains its rhythm throughout and creates one of the most satisfying renditions of a vampire film to date.
Blackeberg, Sweden is an icy tundra of a town. It is cold, barren, and lifeless. It is a breeding ground for isolation. Oskar, a 12 year old boy, lives with his mother in an apartment complex that seems detached from the rest of the world. His mother is always busy and pays him no mind. His father does not live with him. Oskar is also bullied at school. His loneliness caused him to become obsessed with a recent string of gruesome murders in his town. It all changes when he encounters Eli, a mysterious girl who only comes out at night. Over time, they become closer and eventually Oskar discovers Eli’s secret, that she is a vampire.
Let the right One in strays away from the typical clichés of vampire films, portraying the humanity of the vampire as opposed to bloodthirsty beasts. The focus is not on the horror aspect, but rather how Oskar and Eli’s relationship unfolds. It is slow and handled with extreme precision. Little interactions accumulate into stronger emotions over the course of time. It isn’t rushed, nor is it pronounced. You begin to see it throughout the course of the film how Oskar and Eli become closer. Oskar begins to exit the shell he has created through years of isolation and bullying to become closer to Eli. Eli is willing to go against her natural inclination to remain hidden to hang out with Oskar.
Love in this film never devolves into romantic trite; rather it becomes something that goes beyond romance. The innocence in which love is portrayed, is so gentle and tender. It never corrupts or decays. The violent scenes are brutal, but never divulge into senseless gore.
The scenery is fantastic. Blackeberg, Sweden has a frosty beauty to it that intensifies the feelings of loneliness. The woodland scenery is breathtaking and adds a fairy tale/fantasy element to the film. The cinematography is truly phenomenal.
The cinematic score by Johan Sodervist is both poignant and touching. It adds layers of tragedy and sadness to every scene. It also captures the feelings of warm and tenderness between Eli and Oskar. I can say it ranks among my top film soundtracks. The chemistry between Kare Heberdant and Lina Leandersson as Oscar and Eli is so natural it was as if they were not acting. They were so lost in their roles; they transcended their roles.
This is so much more than a vampire film; it is a mesmerizing experience. On a technical level, the cinematography and direction is astounding. You will cry. You will smile. You feel a whirlwind of different emotions in such a brief period of time. Let The Right One in is visual poetry, each scene a lyric in a poem of friendship, love, loss and death. I strongly recommend this film.