In Swedish language with English Subtitles
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Lighthouse
Rating: NC-16 (Some Gore & Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website: www.LTROI.com
Opening Day: 19 February 2009
fragile, anxious boy, 12-year-old Oskar is regularly bullied
by his stronger classmates but never strikes back. The lonely
boy's wish for a friend seems to comes true when he meets
Eli, also 12, who moves in next door to him. But Eli's arrival
coincides with a series of gruesome deaths and attacks. Though
Oskar realizes that she's a vampire, his friendship with her
is stronger than his fear... Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson
weaves friendship, rejection and loyalty into a disturbing,
darkly atmospheric, yet unexpectedly tender tableau of adolescence.
Tomas Alfredson's cult sensation "Let the Right One In" fundamentally boils down to an adolescent love story amidst a torrent of violence, blood and the moody topos of the vampire mythology. It opens on a repressive, wintry suburb in 1980s Sweden and relents, with patient observations, the film’s key motif of alienation. As if frozen in time, the shots – as it pulsates to the erratic rhythms of a dream – turn into a piercing look into the lives of the occupants in an apartment complex guarding secrets and hidden desires but it shifts into focus when a bullied boy with a mop of yellow hair and pale skin who yearns for retribution finds a protector through the avenging affection of an undead pubescent girl.
Instant attraction belies the idiosyncrasies apparent between the 12 year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and the scrawny young Eli (an irresistibly eerie Lina Leandersson) who notices him at the playground as he continuously thrusts a knife into a tree, reenacting his quest for revenge against the school tyrant. She’s drawn to his blistered emotionality – perhaps his wounded humanity – and he is drawn to the novelty of her awareness of him. They eventually find solace in each other’s loneliness. We understand this societal disconnect because Oskar is a product of a broken environment, void of attention and concern while Eli is essentially a predator of instinct and devastation as the director Alfredson feeds this forced isolation into the film’s abiding theme of disaffection with a remarkably assured visual mastery of grey and grit that captures the stony and unyielding mood of bleak frustration within each occupant of the apartment complex. But he still manages to punctuate these moments of deep silence and menacing creepiness with an assertive show of force – intense images of terror and shock that rivals the best genre films in their indelibility.
Writer John Ajvide Lindqvist condenses his novel into a strictly brutal and raw affair, with a removed sense of amusement attached to a serrated edge – consider how matter-of-factly Eli’s “meals” are delivered to her or the droll tête-à-têtes between Eli and Oskar. But the real power of the film doesn’t derive from the film’s traditional horror tropes but of the poignancy wrenched out of the awful depictions of puberty and adolescence. It is, above all else, a gutting interpretation of the coming-of-age that contends with the feelings of bloodlust it augurs in young, artless scapegoats like Oskar and countless of other youths.
Eli becomes Oskar’s salvation – not just through the promise of protection but one that justifies his existence and inherent self-worth. It begins as a despairing tale of fear and resentment and ends on a note of hope and renewal. And it is in its ending that “Let the Right One In” rapidly instigates a quality of genius, as it validates the film’s powerful emotional core. It is at once enriching and thematically functional.
“Let the Right One In,” demands not so much an open mind but an open heart. It is a poetically revitalising and sincerely entrancing film that transcends its genre trappings and simply becomes a terrific film capable of profound currents of compassion in its world of frigid callousness.
(A terrific film – a profoundly charming and unconventional love story)
Review by Justin Deimen