Let the Right One In (2008) – Tomas Alfredson

DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies has not disappointed yet, though I admit some of the movies highlighted in the book so far have been less than stellar, I still had a great time watching them.

Since starting this book, written by director John Landis, I’ve got to revisit my favorite vampire movies ever, been introduced to some I had never even heard of, and now get to settle in to (re)watch what, for me, is probably the best vampire movie if the 21st century (to date).

The Swedish film, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay, is beautiful, sad, and dark and features solid performances by the two young leads.

Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a lonely, bullied young boy. He lives with his mother, and has trouble connecting at school, there is a sense of darkness blossoming deep within him. While a trio of kids pick on him at school a new neighbor moves in right next door to Oskar, and the young girl there, Eli (Lina Leandersson) is not who she appears to be.

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It doesn’t take long to come to figure out that Eli is a vampire. But despite that, the story doesn’t take the usual predictable turns a vampire film seems to have to take. Instead we get a brilliant and moving film that changes the genre, imparts it with a new power, and makes you ruminate and wonder on the fate of Oskar.

Alfredson is great with his storytelling, and isn’t afraid to let the frame sit, and wait before something happens, he uses the depth of the image, as well as the full 2:35 frame to tell his tale.

It’s also a film that doesn’t pander or talk down to its audience, it expects you to deduce things, to follow along, and be involved in the story, and it’s not one that promotes tons of violence. There is blood, and there are attacks, but there is a beauty to each of them, and there are some that don’t even take place on screen, we simply see the fallout of it.

I remember when I first saw this film, and I spent days dwelling on it after my viewing, picking up little things here and there, as well as recalling the way things are shot. I was stunned by this film, and was eager to recommend it to any and all who would listen.

Of course, the inevitable American remake came along, but it doesn’t come across nearly as beautifully and focused at the original.

If you haven’t seen it, please find time, and then pick up DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something else bloody and macabre to watch.

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