CAPSULE: With marked similarities to CARRIE, this is a Swedish vampire film. Oskar, the most bullied boy in school, makes friends with a girl who appears to be his own age, but is somehow different. The somehow is that she is a vampire, living a life as isolated in her way as Oskar is in his. The two form a bond against a background of vampire-related killings. In spite of the fantasy motif this is a serious film about serious problems. Tomas Alfredson directs John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his own novel. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Every school has one. He is the one kid who is the easiest mark and the one who is always the target of cruelty. The most bullied kid is school is twelve-year-old Oskar (played by Kure Hedebrant) who is reaching a confused puberty facing his parents' broken marriage and his living without friends in an atmosphere as cold as the Swedish winter around him. One day playing with a knife, taking his frustration out on a tree, he runs into a girl just his age. Eli (Lina Leandersson) is new to his apartment block. Though she says she cannot be friends with Oskar, she is clearly interested in him. And she is strange. She seems unable to eat candy or come out in the light of day. Soon there are reports of murders in the area. One person sees an adult committing the murders, another sees it as a young girl. Eventually Eli tells her secret to Oskar. She is a vampire. Yes, she is twelve years old like Oskar, but she has been twelve for a very long time. Together they form a sensual and intellectual relationship and Eli tries to get Oscar to fight back against his tormentors. But this may not be the best plan.
The combination of young bullies, families that do not work, revenge fantasies, and supernatural powers may bring to mind Stephen King's CARRIE, though the pacing and style are all-Swedish. The viewer may want to put on a sweater before even watching this film. The cold of the setting and the insular people who talk in isolated sentences creates a real chill in this film. Oskar is the mortal, but he looks almost like he is a vampire himself with his unnaturally white skin, his light blond hair, and his bright red lips. Eli is dark-haired with wide, hypnotic eyes. Together they form a friendship that they both desperately need.
The dialog is spoken in a Bergmanesque style, frequently given with two or three beats between sentences. That makes reading the subtitles easier, but it also separates the viewer from the characters and leaves an unsettling feeling. The silences in the film speak as much as the words. For non-Swedish speakers it may be difficult to tell the adult characters apart. Frequently the viewer is left with a feeling that he does not quite follow what the film is saying. Alfredson said in an interview that he intentionally left some of the film unexplained. There certainly are unanswered questions. The final scene does not seem to fit logically with what came before it and is left unexplained.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is not a piece of throwaway fluff. It is a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin. It is illuminated by the presence of presence of a vampire, but it is a deep and unsettling film. I rate LET THE RIGHT ONE IN a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1139797/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper