Beautiful story, beautiful setting, beautiful imagery and cinematography.
“Let the Right One In” is not just a vampire film or a horror film, it’s a testament to adolescence and the sublime .. . . I am loathe to wax too lyrical but cinema does not often get any better than this in terms of pure sumptuousness; it’s visual caviar.
The vampire in ‘Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008) is Eli (Lina Leandersson), a twelve-year-old girl, although she’s been twelve for a long time. She is unlike most popular depictions of vampires, due to her youth, but she is rendered monstrous in her desire and need for blood which propels her every movement and permeates her existence entirely. She is a tragic character, both beautiful and terrifying.
Eli is befriended by local 12 year old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), who is bullied at school and ignored by his parents. Orkar sees Eli for what she is but is drawn to her nevertheless and as the friendship develops, Eli teaches Oskar how to stand up for himself and fight back and it is in her relationship with Oskar that Eli shows compassion, strength, love. Oskar is no innocent to be corrupted however, he is fueled by his own rage and desire for vengeance which his young, undeveloped body has as yet denied him.
The film is set in a dark, suburban Sweden and the contrast of blood against the stark, utterly white snow is poignant and visually stunning. Director Tomas Alfredson has made a photographer’s film, with almost every scene constructed for maximum visual impact. A haunting score and the quiet, childish voices of the children are subtle, demonstrating that horror is not alway about jumping in your seats or screaming aloud, it can be slow and consuming burn – and one that leaves a mark.
Like every good vampire tale from Stoker onwards, “Let the Right One In” is a love story, The two socially isolated and broken children find and ultimately help each other navigate the landscape they find themselves enclosed within. It’s a landscape made by adults but shown through the eyes of the children who are consumed by forces more primal than the adults around them could bear to imagine.