Last week I challenged the fictional film world to try and live up to the high marks the last two documentaries have gained. It seems they heard me over in Sweden.
Let the Right One In is a lovely tale of a young boy in 80s Sweden whose human interaction consists of dodging bullies and being ignored by his parents. Lucky for him there’s a new next door neighbour, a girl around his age. Although she’s only out at night, doesn’t feel the cold and is partial to some human haemoglobin. Bless. It’s just how I imagine Angel rip-off Twilight to be, if the characters were 12 year old Swedish kids instead of hormone fuelled preeners.
This film avoids the leather jacket cliché and instead puts vampires back to being creatures, preying on humans with an animalistic lust for blood, growling and pouncing – unusual when on the outside this beast is a 12 year old girl. Eli, played by Lina Leandersson, is superb, being only 14 in real life and yet evoking such age and experience in her eyes when playing the older vampire, with a sorrow bedded in her eyes at the lonelier aspects of her existence. Her human counterpart, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), sporting possibly the most stereotypically Swedish hair-do ever, is equally good, a fact confirmed by my Swedish correspondent.
The violence in this film is stark yet unflashy, at times surprisingly brutal (acid + face = youch) but sometimes almost comically so, particularly in the beautifully composed swimming pool scene. Cringy CGI cats aside, the film is visually solid, the icy Swedish backdrop clashing nicely with the warmth of the two lead’s developing friendship. It tests your morality somewhat, and that’s part of its charm. On the one side a heart-warming tale of friendship where it’s most needed, on the other a dark glimpse into a potentially destructive and violent relationship.
Let the Right One In takes a couple of old formulas (vampire mythology plus child befriending non-human – see ET) and melds them into something captivating, beautiful and slightly disconcerting. Always nice to get a film with such varying tones, this soars to a CF3, and claws back another victory for the world of fiction. Go on. Let the right film in.