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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.64%
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Pretty Crappy: 3.39%
Sucks: 1.69%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Let the Right One In
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The anti-'Twilight.'"
5 stars

If the teenage vampire romance "Twilight" had been handed to the late great Krzysztof Kieslowski and he'd been told he could do anything he wanted with the basic premise, the result might've been something like "Let the Right One In."

Though this film is from Sweden, not Poland, it shares with Kieslowski's Decalogue a certain gritty, working-class beauty; disruptive humanity in the dead center of a stark white landscape. The compositions are wintry-immaculate, the sound design amplifies leather boots crushing wet snow. The 43-year-old director Tomas Alfredson has made a gorgeously bleak film, though never at the expense of the story. Quite literally, Sweden in winter in 1982 seems the only possible setting for this tale, which is why the forthcoming American remake sounds absurdly pointless. No American multiplex movie would be allowed to breathe this much, to work its dark magic in silence and ambiguity.

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a 12-year-old with a bone-straight bowl haircut, lives in a housing project with his distant mother. Next door, a girl, Eli (Lina Leandersson) has moved in, along with an older man, Håkan (Per Ragnar), who could be her father or could be something else. Whatever he is or has been to her, we soon discover what he is now: a procurer of fresh blood to keep Eli alive. The solemn-faced Eli is a vampire, with the usual unearthly powers and aversion to sunlight. Oskar is drawn to her, and his innocence appeals to her.

I was reminded not only of Kieslowski but of Philip Ridley's 1990 cult film The Reflecting Skin, in which a boy's fearful fixation on a local lady he takes to be a vampire is part of a surreal fable about loss of innocence. Here, though, we see that Oskar is really not as innocent as all that, and Eli is not as dangerous as we assume. Oskar is being bullied at school; he has a lot of pent-up, impotent rage. He fantasizes about getting his tormentors where he wants them, helpless at the point of a knife. Eli kills people, but only out of necessity. Alfredson, working from a screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the source novel), is able to construct a strange and absolutely original relationship between these two that takes off from a horror premise.

Alfredson's control is generally so pure and strong that I regret a couple of discordant moments, such as a probably-unintentionally funny scene involving a bunch of dismayed cats and a supporting character's fiery fate. For a moment or two, the film feels demoted to a standard horror flick with standard horror tricks. But for the most part, Let the Right One In deals in subtle chills, including a revelation about Eli much clearer to readers of the novel than it probably will be to many viewers. This love story goes beyond everything normal, which may be why we can relate to it. We may not buy the sparkly love between Bella and Edward in Twilight, but we believe in Oskar and Eli.

Schlock can be fun and even transporting, but these days — particularly in the arena of horror — Hollywood seems incapable of giving us anything but schlock, and it's usually sad, flaccid schlock without the transgressive charge it used to have in the days of grindhouse and drive-ins. But when a filmmaker takes horror seriously, as a launching pad for a human story that couldn't be told as effectively in any other genre, we horror fans are reminded why we fell in love with horror in the first place. "Let the Right One In" reacquaints us with real, classical horror, and it's about damn time.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17613&reviewer=416
originally posted: 11/21/08 23:43:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2008 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2008 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/04/13 David Hollingsworth Poetic, stunning, and a very worthwhile tribute to the vampire genre. 5 stars
3/06/12 Marty Eli/Oskar work great together. re-make's good, but this 1 has the heart. 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic Enchanting and haunting, touching and creepy. The best vampire movie in decades. 5 stars
8/12/11 jiropan best vampire film 4 stars
6/05/11 mikie best film iv ever seen i was those kis when i was 12 eli n oscar are magic 5 stars
1/12/11 Matt Stilwell What a vampire movie should be. You hear that, Twilight ? 5 stars
11/21/09 FrankNFurter Overrated, incredibly boring & pretentious. "Foreign" does not = "deep." 2 stars
10/18/09 daveyt Don't do Hollywood remake, PLEASE!!!!! 5 stars
10/17/09 Joise Cotton is a goddess Might be the best horror/drama hybrid since 'May' 5 stars
8/10/09 Benny Lava Atrociously slow and drab and without a redeeming plot to keep one awake. So dull... 1 stars
7/10/09 art A NIFTY FABLE! 4 stars
6/08/09 Man Out 6 Bucks This and Martyrs are best of 2008 5 stars
5/29/09 anthony A thoughtful, fresh approach; while staying true to vampyre lore! 5 stars
5/13/09 Matt great performances, great cinematography, great film. boycott the remake 5 stars
5/10/09 Darkstar Excellent! 5 stars
5/06/09 jeanne The two kids were beyond amazing - all right, everybody into the pool! 5 stars
4/16/09 Mark Just a great film. 5 stars
4/04/09 Sevarian Easily the best vampire film of recent years 5 stars
3/20/09 Baloney Reveals a horror paradox. The more the monster's humanity shows, the less monstrous she is. 5 stars
2/10/09 ES It was good, a preteen romance that makes one hope for as happy an ending as possible 4 stars
1/21/09 sidd dis movie rox.. XD 4 stars
12/27/08 mr.mike Recalls both Herzog's Nosferatu and Warhol's Dracula. 5 stars
12/16/08 damalc maybe best vamp film ever, since 'Near Dark' at the least 5 stars
12/08/08 brian c. The best horror film of the decade, and the best film of 2008 so far. Very beautiful. 5 stars
11/22/08 Jack Sommersby Overdeliberate and enervating, it's more bark than bite. 2 stars
11/14/08 Dan Feeney Yeah, that's how I felt too. My favourite film of 2008 so far, including The Visitor. 5 stars
11/09/08 stephen goodridge scary, but i loved it 5 stars
10/29/08 tiffany pettey movies like this that are realistic keep me enthralled and dont suck need a good review go 5 stars
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  24-Oct-2008 (R)
  DVD: 10-Mar-2009


  DVD: 10-Mar-2009

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