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Let the Right One In (2008)

Låt den rätte komma in

Eli is 12 years old. She's been 12 for over 200 years and, she just moved in next door.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 115 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Yeah, yeah, I admit—I kind of liked Twilight, which is not to say that, just by mentioning it anywhere within the context of this review, it should even be put in the same section of the DVD shelf as Let the Right One In. There are vampires in both, and I suppose it can be argued that both are love stories, but where that teen-vamp melodrama works only because it’s not as bad as it could’ve been, this Swedish (who knew?) horror film is beautiful and sad and disturbing … and even scary.

Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) isn’t having the best time of it lately. He’s being harassed by mean bullies that make him squeal like a pig, he splits his time shuffling between his mother’s and father’s houses, and there’s a killer on the loose. Plus it’s always cold and snowy. There’s a bright spot, though, when a new girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next door and the two outcasts strike up a friendship—but even that happiness may be short lived when Eli’s secrets are revealed.

Horror fans have been raving about this movie for months, but it took me a while to see it because it had a lot of snow, and snow makes me sleepy. It was worth waiting for, though—whereas most recent vampire endeavors either romanticize or demonize the bloodsuckers, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and screenplay steer clear of giving the child vampire Eli much in the way of superpower—at least that we see—choosing instead to present her, most of the time, as a young girl with a deadly bloodlust. The love and affection between Eli and Oskar plays realistically and with adolescent awkwardness, which is why the brutality of Eli’s “lifestyle” is even more terrifying—once you see a twelve-year-old jump on someone’s back and bleed them dry within the first half hour, the suspense is notched up because you just don’t know how far we’re going to go. On the other hand, director Tomas Alfredson doesn’t actually show THAT much carnage, but in that way of the best scaries, we think he does. This is almost more of a piece of art, with every shot, whether it’s of a bloody-mouthed Eli, a snowy jungle gym, or the impossibly pale Oskar stabbing a tree, a still shot ready for framing. And the sound—somehow, the music-free suckling and gurgling make the kills that much more frightening. I was afraid this was going to be a snobby horror film, full of high aspirations and indulgence, but what it turned out to be is a fleshed-out, unsettling vampire movie that scares while making us question the whole concept of a monster. Sweden, you rock!

It's Got: Originality, Fascinating story, Great acting all around, Pretty snow.

It Needs: Viewers to pay attention, Fans to read the novel.


One of the best horror films of the year, Let the Right One In is all at once scary, haunting, and a pretty sweet love story to boot.