(This review originally ran in The Exception Mag on December 03, 2008)
It seems like everywhere you look these days there’s Vampires. In the book stores and multiplexes there’s the Twilight Series. The books are doing so well that one independent bookstore that was sold out of the 3rd book told me the Publisher was out of the first three books all together. And at the box office the adaptation of the first book blew everyone away when it made nearly $20 million more than expected opening weekend, and crossed the $100 million mark in 8 days. And TV is even seeing a Vampire resurgence, after a few years off when Buffy and Angel ended there runs. SciFi recently announced it had picked up last seasons canceled before it’s time, Moonlight, and HBO’s Tru Blood, based on yet another series of books, just wrapped it’s first season with a second set to air this summer.
But there is one little gem that may get missed by most in this vampire frenzy, the independent Swedish film, Let the Right One In. The fact that’s it’s both independent and has subtitles will probably deter many people, but those that look past this will find a really great little film. Let the Right One In (LTROI) is essentially the anti-Twilight. Whereas Twilight is the sweet, romantic fairy tale of a girl and her vampire, LTROI is the darkly realistic tale of a boy and his vampire.
We are quickly introduced to Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) a homely 12 year old boy who lives with his mother in a large apartment complex. Oskar spends his days being picked on by his peers, taking their torment without saying a word. But it’s quickly clear that Oskar is not your typical kid, he collects newspaper clippings of murders and other violent crimes and at night he dreams of getting his revenge on his tormentors with the help of his hunting knife. During one of his nightly “fights” Oskar meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), his new neighbor, whose arrival, with an older man, Håkan, coincides with that of a series of ghastly murders. It reveals nothing to tell you that it is Håkan that is committing these murders (although he is horrible at it) in order to feed Eli, who is of course a vampire.
The main focus of the movie is the relationship between Oskar & Eli. It is fascinating to see the changes that having a friend, especially a unique on like Eli has on Oskar, and it’s not long before the bullies see the change in him as well. Hedebrant and Leandersson do a wonderful job portraying their relationship and Leandersson especially does a fantastic job portraying Eli as creepy, yet sweet. But be forewarned this movie is not all darkly, sweet romance; there is also quite a bit of blood and gore.
All in all, LTROI, is an excellent film with a weirdly sweet, yet bloody romance at its center. If you’re a fan of the horror genre its essential viewing, and don’t let the subtitles keep you from seeing this film. Although if you absolutely can’t do subtitles, you can always wait until the American version coming soon from Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. (But it probably won’t be near as good as this near perfect gem.)