Let The Right One In


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Let The Right One In
"It is frequently not what you see but what you hear which holds the horror."

Like fellow Swedish alumni The King Of Ping Pong, this is a delicately worked coming of age story about a bullied boy and his burgeoning relationship with a 'first love'. But it is also a lot more than that - a study of outsiders, a serial killer mystery, a dark comedy, a touching emotional drama and a re-examination of the vampire myth. That it manages to flit between these genres so lightly and successfully is testimony both to excellent direction of Tomas Alfredson and terrific central performances from the film's young leads.

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is the bullied boy. With ash blond hair and a delicate frame, he compiles clippings of murders in a scrapbook and practices stabbing his tormentors with the cry of: "Squeal, squeal like a pig!" An outsider at school, with his pre-teen body just ripe for use as a punching bag, he strikes up a friendship with the girl who has just moved in next door, Eli - who is a secret outsider, too.

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As their relationship begins to blossom, a spate of brutal slayings - some of which we become privy to - are rocking the neighbourhood, but is there more to the bungling serial killer than meets the eye?

Alfredson takes his fantasy seriously. So seriously, in fact, you frequently forget you are watching the 'incredible'. He treats his framing as though he was shooting a documentary, hugging his subjects so you can feel their breath as they steam up the window pane. The sound design perfectly complements this approach. It is frequently not what you see but what you hear which holds the horror - from the thrum of a knife to Eli's sometimes laboured breathing. That they managed to marry up perfect acting from Lina Leandersson with the voice of another child is also a triumph - although perhaps the fact that the film has subtitles draws attention away from any glitches that may exist.

Because the script - based on the book of the same name - has been adapted by its original author, there can also be no doubt that the screenplay is true to the source material both in tone and in spirit.

The only quibble with the film - and it is a minor one - is that its limited budget is rather obvious in one or two of the special effects sequences. Since everything has a very true-to-life feel otherwise, it's a shame that the effects - most particularly a scene involving a pack of cats - look a trifle fake.

This is no reason not to see the film, however, it really is trying - and achieving - something very different in terms of tone and style. This was crowned best film at the Tribeca Film Festival, an accolade it thoroughly deserves. Hammer have, according to several reports, acquired the remake rights. My advice is don't wait, make an effort to see the original - I'll be amazed if they manage to improve on it.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2008
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A touching story of first romance... with a side-serving of horror.

Read more Let The Right One In reviews:

Nick Da Costa ****1/2
Keith Hennessey Brown ****1/2
The Exile ****
Chris **1/2

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel of the same name.

Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu, Pale Olofsson

Year: 2008

Runtime: 114 minutes

Country: Sweden

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The King Of Ping Pong