Published Oct 30, 2008As a metaphor for terminal illness and the dread of difference, Let the Right One In succeeds by communicating its existential feelings of despondency and ideological indifference through a simultaneously heart-warming and horrific template with enough stylization to keep both art-house audiences and less discerning ones engaged. This balance of cultural and commercial, along with a truly impressive overall aesthetic and a fresh take on both the tired vampire genre and isolation, anxieties makes Let the Right One In one of the most affecting and entertaining films in quite some time.
The tale of unlikely affections starts with Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a lonely albino boy who lives with his divorced mother in a rundown apartment complex and spends his days suffering relentless torture and harassment from some particularly brutal schoolyard bullies. Seeking human interaction, Oskar is drawn to the peculiar and unkempt Eli (Lina Leandersson), a girl who only comes out at night and is indifferent to the cold.
Despite objections from Hakar (Per Ragnar), a man whom the locals assume is her father, Eli pursues the friendship with Oskar, offering him purpose in life and helping him build some much needed self-confidence.
Even though some secondary storylines involving a crazy cat man and a newly formed vampire are not fully fleshed out, acting only as conflicting elements that add urgency to Eli and Oskars plight, the core story of two outsiders who find a connection in a hostile and violent world is so strong that this is easy to overlook.
Adding to the already lopsided list of positives, a tendency to avoid unnecessary exposition makes subtle realizations that much more profound and personal. While never overtly stated, the true nature of Elis relationship with Hakar is tragic and heartbreaking while offering some clever foreshadowing, especially considering what ultimately happens to him and what he is willing to do for her.
As one of the best films of the year, Let the Right One In deserves to be seen. Preferably before the inevitable bastardized remake from Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. (Mongrel Media)