Note, usually when it comes to discussing a movie in general I would often attempt to avoid spoiling it for those who have not seen it. However, this time around it is an exception as some parts of it that I feel are needed to be discussed are spoilers and form my opinion and thoughts about the film as a whole. Therefore, if you have not seen the film and would like to I suggest turning away now. Without much further ado, the horror film: Let the Right One In.
Country of Origin: Sweden
Originally Released: 2009 (2008 in its home country)
The film follows a 12-year old boy, named Oskar, whose parents are seperated. He lives with his mother and visits his father, though the audience is not yet too sure. Oskar is frequently bullied at school and feels much like the outsider. One night he finds a girl named Eli around his age, or so it appears, living in the next door apartment to him. Eli tells him that they should not be friends, however over time they start to develop a close relationship.
A few aspects about Eli: she cannot stand the sunlight, and must be invited into a room. Most of the time, she would hide that she is a vampire from people; for Oskar, for some reason, her efforts to do so are either poor or she is fairly explicit about it. Oskar is slow to catch on to this. Next door she is staying with a man â€“ her â€œfatherâ€ as he is called â€“ who acts as a traveling companion providing fresh blood for her to feast on. One night, the quest to find her some food goes horribly awry and the companion is left in hospital, severely disfigured. In the meantime, Eli is caught when she kills a local man for nourishment. This causes her to have to flee out of sight to avoid further attention.
Getting a number of the strengths out of the way, this film is beautifully shot and has a great soundtrack, mood and atmosphere. It puts a lot of effort into style, yet does not ignore the importance of good story telling. It is as much a horror story as it is a story about a childhood, a mystery and the musings of a local community. Much kudos goes to the two child leads, Kare Hedebrant (Oskar) and Lina Leandersson (Eli). While the other actors are decent in their own part, in comparisson they do not get their time to shine on screen.
From what I have heard, there are several aspects about the film that to truly understand their significance and to make sense of them you have to have read the source material beforehand. If that is the case â€“ and there were a few puzzling moments â€“ then that is bad writing. We are talking about an adaptation, which must stand on its own merits. With better refinement of the source material to a beginner’s understanding, this would have been a more engaging movie.
One of the problems comes from a twist at the end, where the girl is really a boy. All that is really given the clue is a shot of the crotch near the end where he had been castrated all those years ago. As an audience, we should not be expected to be spoon-fed all the details and clues to a plot; on the other hand there needs to be a number of aspects that can be deduced for the ending to be sufficient.
Another aspect that is explained in the books is why the victims necks are broken after the vampires feed from them. Even without knowing the source material, it makes sense for this to be and is a good turn on the mythos. This makes sense as it stops the victims from coming back (a snapped neck is a snapped neck, undead or not) and prevents suspicion from being arisen.
While many critics were really taken by it, the writing lacked somewhat and made it a little distant. Still, it made a fairly solid effort and I can recommend the film on its own merits and not just for fans of the genres and sub-genres that cover it. A haunting, bloody film against the backdrop of snow-covered Stockholm really works; like the pure white snow represents an innocence soon to die. For something way different to the usual fare, it is well worth watching. Even for the non-horror fans.