Review: Let The Right One In
Given cousin Pancake’s inclusion of it in her 10 Horror Standouts, I figured it was time to watch Let The Right One In. It’s been popping up here and there among the movie critics I like, and each time it’s been showered with praise—all that despite the cinema’s recent inundation with vampire-romance flicks.
Evidently the way to side-step that stigma is to make your vampire-romance flick full of pedophilia and…some other bizarre themes. Also, foreign.
The premise is that “12-year-old” vampire Eli and her caretaker, the creepy Håkan, moves into low-rent apartment in low-rent district of low-rent Swedish town. In time, she befriends quiet and lonely 12-year-old Oskar. Eli and Håkan prey upon the residents of the town while Oskar is cruelly preyed upon by his classmates.
I can’t get in to too much detail without giving away some of the film’s best moments, but the thing to take from it is the depth with which it depicts the characters and their love for each other. It’s not especially scary, though there are some fearsome scenes; instead it’s touching. Pancake and I have been e-mailing each other all day, speculating on the nature of Oskar and Eli’s relationship, what we think and what we want to believe, and you want to be delicate because much of it deals with the sexuality of prepubescents, but the child actors and the script make them convincing, and so you take them as real people. They exist, and that’s how you treat them—as real people.
And that’s an accomplishment.
Eli’s brutal and encourages Oskar’s violent side, but in him the blood-sucker sees something deeply human, a piece of humanity she’s long-since lost. In her, Oskar sees a stability and tenderness that’s lacking from his day-to-day life. And when she wraps her arms around him, and he around her, the comfort they find in each other elicits one of those satisfied sighs that even the most well-matched of lovers can only hope to achieve.
There are some flaws. The ’80s setting is distracting, and I felt many of Oskar’s scenes stumble into ponderousness. Maybe I’m being an American, but oftentimes Let the Right One In seemed slow. Oskar was also a bit too androgynous for me, though, that’s probably intentional. Aaaaaand the cat scene…yeah…well, all the CGI parts are noticeably…noticeable.
The ending pool scene justly receives praise. The setup is forced, but the execution is masterful. For me, the defining moment is Eli and Oskar’s first kiss. He’s just saved her life and her mouth is drenched in blood, and the passion with which they embrace is just…wow.