Let the Right One In
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindvist (novel & screenplay)
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragner, and Henrik Dahl.
In the age of Twilight, the once mythical mythology of the vampire has been demystified and defanged in order to appeal to tweens and easily-offended soccer moms. Thankfully Tomas Alfredson sticks it to Bella and Edward in this bloody tale of a tween boy and the vampire he befriends.
Let the Right One In is a meticulously crafted work of art. Each camera angle is deliberate in its haunting beauty, and each sentence delves deeper into the characters or the story. Nothing is wasted, a sign of a great independent filmmaker at work.
The story is kept simple, though it is filled with allegory relating to Swedish socialism. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a young boy who gets picked on at school because he is weak and timid. He has no friends until a girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next door and starts showing up after dark to help him solve his Rubik’s Cube. The charm of these early scenes resonate because of their simplicity and also because of the darkness that follows.
We see Eli and the man she lives with (Per Ragner) commit horrific murders, the man collecting the blood in pales afterward. Once her secret is out (Gasp! She’s a vampire!), Oskar still remains loyal to her. The emerging sexuality between the two refuses to remain innocent. Eli is two hundred years old and has the desires of an adult. The writer of both the novel and the screenplay, John Ajvide Lindvist, knows this. However, they share a bond that is not just carnal.
The acting in this film is extraordinary, especially for child actors. Lina Leandersson gives perhaps the best performance elicited from a child since Atonement. The latter performance was Oscar nominated. Leandersson, to the shame of the Academy, wasn’t. The way she channels Eli’s rage, joy, and sadness is unbelievable.
Though he has less to work with in his role, the young Kåre Hedebrant also shows promise. Though initially his character may seem annoying, as the film progresses and the bond between between Oskar and Eli grows, Hedebrant gives a performance filled with innocent charm that leads to confusion and terror.
As viewers of this film see as it moves along, the two are loyal to each other, even though Oskar understands almost nothing of Eli’s way of life. Alfredson has crafted one of the greatest vampire movies in this adaptation filled with exquisite terror. Overshadowed by Twilight, this story of real vampires is the right one to let into your DVD player.