Let the Right One In
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN: DISORIENTING BUT EXHILIRATING
Let the Right One In is a new twist on a story about a young boy being bullied. He gets the unlikely help from a mysterious girl who just happens to be a vampire. The film is shrouded in darkness and will give you the chills. You won't be able to decide if it is a sweet story about the friendship between a boy and a girl or a chilling tale of an unrepentant murderer. But believe it or not, that is where the appeal lies.
Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is lonely. He gets beat up by the school bully on a daily basis. He doesn't have any friends. He is fascinated by violent crimes that appear in the news. He lives in an apartment complex with his mother. One night he is hanging out in the courtyard in front of his apartment and meets a strange girl. Eli (Lina Leandersson) is pale, has dark circles under eyes, and has no shoes on. She tells Oskar that he can't be friends with her. But each night after that he sees her and they talk. In the meanwhile, local adults are showing up murdered. It appears they are being attacked by a brutal animal while others are drained of their blood. As Eli and Oskar become close, he realizes and she confirms that she is a vampire. Oskar has to decide if it is worth to continue their relationship.
The story at first appears to be simple, a boy who is a loner and just wants attention. He is getting the unwanted kind at school. Meanwhile his mom and dad seem to be too preoccupied with their own lives. He meets this girl who opens up his world and teaches him to stand up for himself. But she has a dark side that he may or may not be able to handle. The complexity lies in the fact that you can't decide if she is good for him or not. She teaches him confidence as she feeds off the innocent adults in this small Swedish town. It is very unsettling but leaves a lasting impression. Leandersson as the haunting Eli is magnificent. She is wise beyond her years but still retains her childlike demeanor. The acceptance of her fate hangs on like a heavy wool blanket that doesn't keep her warm. And Hedebrant as Oskar is sometimes scarier than Eli. When he is fantasizing about acting out against his tormentors, you feel his wildness and see what he is bottling up inside. They form an unlikely pair but you feel the kinship between the two as the film progresses. The look of the movie just reinforces the uneasiness. With the snow during an obviously freezing cold winter and the darkness against the stark white skin of Oskar, it is extreme to the nth degree. And the lack of color during a desolate time (set during 1982) symbolizes what a sad time it was. The director doesn't want you to be comfortable throughout the film and he accomplishes his goal.
Let the Right One In is far from your typical vampire movie. It is almost a love story between an adolescent boy and girl. One of them just happens to feed off of human blood. The balance of the stunning violent acts against the victims and the affection between Oskar and Eli are on two ends of the spectrum. But it works wonderfully. The film might leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, it might not. You decide.