Let The Right One In


Reviewed by: Chris

Let The Right One In
"This is such a clever little film that I almost feel bad saying mean things about it. Almost."

Editor's Note: This review contains spoilers, so read it at your own risk.

This is such a clever little film that I almost feel bad saying mean things about it. Almost.

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It concerns Oskar, a 12-year-old lad. That twattish sort that you just know is going to turn out to be really lovable and maybe a hero of sorts. He fantasises about punishing his bullies, poor sod. He’s like a pathologically depressed Harry Potter, with no magic in his life. Alienated and isolated, Oskar’s in big need of an ET to phone when he gets home. All he gets is half-blood princess type – an anaemic looking girl about his own age, who has lived more or less forever like that. Her sole dietary requirement is a lil ol’ blood. Fresh or bottled - yup, it’s the teeny vampire chick that went further than just playing goth.

Her old man tries to bump off and bleed the odd straggler or two. Hoping no one will notice. Hang ‘em upside down and so on...you know, the things a dad has to do for a child these days...! The brilliantly conceived opening scenes show our loving pater packing up his portable halothane tank as if off to work. He works over someone silly enough to give the time of day one night and has got most of the bodily necessaries into a container before an inquisitive doggy comes along and provides brilliantly timed humour. I had hoped for a Blue Velvet-style Dennis Hopper come-to-daddy scene, but the halothane was just a polite way of rendering victims unconscious.

With no excitement in his life, Oskar collects murder-mystery newspaper cuttings, which give him a geeky sense of superiority as he’s not exactly the Rubic Cube kid. Then, guess what? The wee girlie, who is the only person who doesn’t beat up on him, can crack his Rubik Cube faster than you can say, “I wish I was in Mensa”, and their unholy alliance enters its touchy-feely phase. Girlie monsta (called Eli) is too stupid to tidy up after her victims though, and soon threatens to get dad into trouble. Various dead inconsequential muggles later and off they go to their very own, not-too-bright (one presumes) sunset. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Now my problem is this. If you pay to see a horror film, you expect something really nasty. And if you don’t like that kind of stuff, do you really want to see a vampire movie anyway? Let the Right One In is beautifully orchestrated, but it just ticked too many convenient boxes for my liking.

Watching it at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I couldn’t help but be struck by its similarity to Shiver, which was also showing - with a protagonist of an age that can sneak into horror films, who identifies with being picked on or bullied, slightly too old for Harry Potter, and the monster-stroke-coming-of-age-hormonal hottie turns out to be really cute all along.

There is so much talent in this film - director, actors, cinematography – but the subtlety, even if it is adapted from a book, is just a way of getting more bums on seats than out-of-favour traditional horror films can. True, there are the occasional ghostly scares, but Let the Right One In has forgotten horror films are supposed to scarify the living bejesus out of you. There isn’t even much of the gratuitousness fans enjoy over the age of 18. Clue: “C’mon and suck on my Oskar,” is NOT one of the lines from this tender romance.

The title refers to a traditional lore that says a vampire has to be invited in. About the only bit of traditional detail this film gets right. Peter Cushing might well be tossing and turning in his grave.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2008
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Let The Right One In packshot
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
Amber Wilkinson ****1/2
Keith Hennessey Brown ****1/2
The Exile ****

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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