Fright Fest 2018: Let The Right One In (2008)
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, & Peter Carlberg
Written By: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
Synopsis: When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.
I first saw Let The Right One In a little over a year ago. I had heard about it of course, the film received TONS of critical and audience acclaim from its festival runs and initial opening. It was kind of hard to not hear about this new vampire romance film that was (and in my opinion still is) generating quite a following. Unfortunately for the timing of this film’s release, another vampire romance story had been making waves with a much, much wider audience. Yes, I am referring to Twilight (2008). However, we are not here to discuss sparkling vampires.
Let The Right One In is a Swedish film from 2008 that at its center, embraces themes of friendship, empowerment, and also loss. Based off of the novel of the same name, Let The Right One In follows Oskar- a lonely boy who is constantly harassed and bullied. A string of grisly murders going on around the town has everyone on high alert and throughout the course of the film we learn that the new friend he has recently made is the cause of them.
Eli and Oskar build a relationship that is both heartwarming and at the same time manages to find itself being heartbreaking. The actors are phenomenal in the roles and suck you right into the drama. The characters play off of each other beautifully and symmetrically. As the film progresses- Oskar desires to be strong, with the ability to fight back and take revenge on his bullies. He sees these qualities in Eli. The same can be said for the vampire. While Oskar dreams of murdering his tormentors, Eli seems to just want to be a normal person. She feels guilty to some degree for the crimes that she must commit in order to survive.
Let The Right One In is an extremely well-crafted film. From its gorgeous cinematography, it’s pitch perfect pacing, and smoldering mood to its sound design and score, the film captured my attention. While watching it, I didn’t realize just how invested I had become in the lives of these characters.
Let The Right One In is more than just a horror film featuring a vampire. It is a coming of age tale about friendship and also manipulation. It showcases themes of neglect- both physical and emotional. The mood and atmosphere are icy cold and unrelenting. Let The Right One In is one of those films that transcends the genre. It is a film that anyone who loves cinema and storytelling NEED to see. Very rarely do films like this come out that have an impact that pushes it beyond the genre that it gets lumped into. Yes, the film is a horror story, but it goes way beyond that. It takes genre conventions and expectations and twists them, focusing more on the character’s growing relationship rather than trying to scare us. Let The Right One In is a masterpiece of modern cinema that will live on to be dissected and discussed like the original Halloween (1978), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and Psycho (1960). It takes its many themes and plays upon them heavily. It does at times come across a bit heavy-handed but not in a way that harms the film’s effect on the viewer.
For the most part, vampire flicks now seem to be lumped into either being a tween romance or an absurd camp fest. The nature of the creature itself is horrifying but we have found ourselves embracing them sexually or for a joke. Let The Right One In takes us on an unforgettable journey that treats the creature in a serious way and utilizes the monster in ways that the genre rarely sees.
I will say that it is not a “feel good” kind of movie. It packs its share of punches that may put some off. This isn’t a film that you would just throw on with a few friends. It has a serious tone that forces you to consider what it is throwing at you. This is a movie that you need to be in the right mood to watch.
At the end of the day, Let The Right One In is a slow burning story that is a must see for genre fans and fans of cinema period. You will either love it or hate it, fortunately, everyone that I have had the privilege of speaking to about Let The Right One In has either loved the film, or at the very least respected what it does for the vampire sub-genre. This is probably in my top five vampire films of all time. I highly, highly recommend you checking it out if you haven’t!
Rating: 5 out of 5
My name is Joshua Macmillan, I am an author of horror and dark fiction. My first publication is a short story within the 13:Night Terrors anthology published by Limitless Publishing! I am currently working on my first novel and plan to have as many short stories published as possible while I work on the novel! I look forward to hearing from you guys! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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