One You Might've Missed #05: Let the Right One In


by: Sturdy

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

I once wrote a long diatribe about how despicable TWILIGHT is because, among other things, it doesn’t respect the vampire lore.  There’s a point where you ignore and/or change enough traits about a vampire that the being you’re writing about is no longer a vampire, but some other type of demon creature.  I’ve had similar complaints about other vampire stories and for a while, I felt like society was completely getting away from the traditional vampires.  I’ve never met a vampire, but I don’t think they’re rock stars, regardless of what MTV would have you believe.  So then there’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN; a low budget, Swedish film about a little vampire girl.  Stephanie Meyer and her ilk should take note because this is what a vampire film should be.

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The film really revolves around Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a young boy struggling in school with a group of bullies and living as an outcast, even in his own home.  But when a strange little girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next to him, he finds a friend and his life begins to change.  It doesn’t take long for him to notice that this girl is not like others, and as people begin to die and disappear around his small town, he pieces everything together and learns she’s a vampire.

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Now, once it’s revealed that this little girl is a vampire (about 20 minutes into the film), the filmmakers have several different ways to take the story.  Some movies will make this the point of the film, with the town banding together with pitchforks and fire burning crosses.  Other films will focus on her struggles with being a vampire and Oskar’s struggles dealing with it.  Either would have been a disservice to the story and I was pleased that director Tomas Alfredson basically treated Eli being a vampire like she admitted she has insomnia; yeah, it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.

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But the real beauty of the film was the crafting of the relationship between Oskar and Eli.  These are 12 year-old little kids, but their relationship was more heartfelt and touching than most adult relationships Hollywood churns out.  With very little dialogue, Oskar and Eli developed a bond that resonated on screen and appealed to the audience.  And special mention should be made to Lina Leandersson.  She was incredibly captivating as the troubled Eli.  She commanded the screen when she was there and if she doesn’t become an international superstar in the next 15 years, then there’s clearly something wrong with the world.

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As skilled as the crafting of the story was, it was not without its problems.  Alfredson maybe tried to cram too much into the film that never got developed.  He started by painting Oskar as having an obsession with death, but that never really went anywhere.  There was a possible child-abuse story as well that might have been unnecessary, especially so far into the film.  But in the end, the negatives tended to work because I was appreciative he didn’t beat us over the head with anything.  Many aspects of the story, including the ending, are left up to the audience to decide.

I’ve always been a fan of vampire films, but I have to say that this one is special.  Not because it’s a vampire movie, but because it’s an emotionally charged film about the relationship between two troubled kids.  Even without the subtitles, it is clear from the beginning that this is not a Hollywood film, and when it comes to vampire movies, there’s really not a bigger compliment you can give.

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