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Let the Right One In The Film Aficionado’s Answer to Twilight

Lat Den Ratte Komma In (Let the Right One In)
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist based on his novel
Magnolia Pictures, 2008

Back in late October, Let the Right One In was given its limited release, and much like all horror movies that find its way to the United States, an immediate American remake was called for, scheduled for a 2010 release to be directed by Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves.  So before this movie gets remade with whoever happens to be our most promising child stars or is changed to accommodate the big Disney teen diva, here’s your chance to see the untainted original.

It has been an easy comparison among film fans to say this movie destroys Twilight, and it pretty much does.  Where Twilight is aimed at teenage girls and pretty much only appeals to that group, Let the Right One In is for all genders of appropriate age groups.  And it brings back vampires that actually need to drain some blood once in awhile and not brood about and keep their instincts in check, but a sort of love story does remain intact.

Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a lonely kid who is often bullied at school, who lives with his divorced mom in an apartment building.  Some new tenants have moved in next door: Hakan (Per Ragnar) and his daughter Eli (Lina Leandersson).  We know that there’s something a bit unusual about the pair because Hakan goes out in the middle of the night to find people and drain their blood.  Meanwhile, Eli and Oskar meet each other the way kids do, while outside playing, and form a friendship.  Eli is a bit mysterious about things and doesn’t come out during the day, but Oskar is more than happy to have a friend for a change.

Hakan is getting old, however, and has begun to fail in his duties to bring fresh blood to Eli, so she has to find it in another way, one that gets the townspeople worried and frightened.  Eli isn’t actually very subtle about hunting, but she manages to keep the secret from Oskar for awhile.  Oskar finds himself in love with Eli after awhile, which brings up two fascinating possibilities that the film allows you to debate for yourself: Hakan seems to be a man who is probably not Eli’s father, and probably fell in love with her himself long ago, but considering the non-aging effects of vampirism, he has grown old without her.  This is something the movie doesn’t explain or imply in any way, but it does hint.  And Oskar is becoming the new caregiver in Hakan’s place.  But, Eli mentions a couple of times that she’s not a girl…something else the film hints at but doesn’t explain, at least not fully (there is a very quick flash of a scene that offers a possible explanation).

The two plot threads that will come together are Oskar’s bullies and a suspicious local trying to figure out the truth about Eli, combining to form the protective bond the two have with one another.  Oskar decides that Eli being a vampire isn’t enough to lose a friend, but Eli’s vampirism may very well be enough for her to have to leave him down the road.

The movie is mostly a quiet exploration into friendship/child romance, but it has plenty of blood for the horror fan, too.  And for that it’s a very unusual, compulsively watchable flick that has one of the best endings in film this year.  This and The Wrestler are competing for my affections in that regard, and I can’t figure out right now which one is the best.  Some of you might be seeing this on Blockbuster shelves soon; this is a good flick that deserves more of an audience so see it however you can.

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