Let the Right One In

Dir: Tomas Alfredson
Star: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl

Twilight, consider your emo ass royally kicked - all the way from here to Sweden, and back to the inevitable, probably entirely pointless, Hollywood remake. Oskar (Hedbrant) is twelve, lonely and bullied at his school in a Stockholm suburb, when he gets a new neighbour. She is also twelve - "more or less" - and lonely, but bullying isn't an issue, since she's a vampire. Like I said: "more or less." She has a minion, but he's really not up to the task of finding victims and draining their blood, with the aid of a funnel; his failures leave Eli getting steadily weaker, until she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. However, her confidence rubs off on Oskar, who finds himself more inclined to stand up to the bullies who are tormenting him. However, confrontation may not be the best of ideas. Not when one of them has a big brother, who clearly comes from the same stock.

The film is simple in structure and tone, and distinctly chilly in atmosphere, buried in the snowy depths of a Scandinavian winter. It doesn't bother with much in the way of explanations. How did Eli get infected? Where did her minion come from? Are there others like her? What's going on with Oskar's estranged father? None of this is explored, but I can't say it hurts the film much. It's more interested in relationship between Eli and Oskar, both of them outsiders in their own ways: he's despised by his peers for being different, she's a predator who can only go out at night, and is resigned to a nomadic life without attachments or companionship. Somehow, their dysfunctions mesh, and the results are quite touching and thoroughly impressive, culminating in a scene at a swimming pool, of exquisitely satisfactory completeness, despite all the unexplained aspects. Despite high expectations going it, this does indeed mostly live up to the hype.

[February 2009]

Daughter of darkness
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