Let the Right One In
Worth a Bite: As much as it frightens, Let the Right One In also packs a poignant punch.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
While American horror movie makers have been spending their time either developing new flicks for the Saw series or remaking horror touchstones like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, foreign filmmakers have been injecting much needed new blood (and gore) into the genre. The most inventive horror films over the last decade have hailed from Spain (The Orphanage), France (High Tension) and Asia (The Eye, Shutter, The Grudge). Now, Sweden enters the scene with Let The Right One In, which fuses the long poetic shots of an art house film with flashes of bloodshed.
The movie is just as much an affecting coming of age love story as a retooling of vampire horror movies. Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a pale boy with a bad haircut who is frequently tormented by a sadistic group of kids at his school. A loner, Oskar finally makes a friend with Eli (Lina Leandersson,) a strange smelling girl his age who has just moved into the apartment next door.
After Eli arrives in town, with a middle-aged man who appears to be her father, a boy is found dead in a park hanging upside down. What’s chilling about the murder is that the killer drained and attempted to collect the boy’s blood in a plastic jug. A newspaper article reports that the “victim’s blood was tapped.”
Rather than adopting the jumpy, quick cuts utilized in many recent horror movies, Director Tomas Alfredson lets the story unfurl gracefully with meditative shots of falling snow and several effective scenes peering into Oskar and Eli’s apartment windows from the outside. Meanwhile, a final showdown between Oskar and his bullies that transpires in a pool is a masterfully creative scene that will linger in your mind long after the credits roll.
Alfredson also culls two great performances from his young leads. Leandersson does a great job of making Eli feel like an older, wiser woman contained in a 12-year-old girl’s body. Meanwhile, Hedebrant is adept at showing how Oskar’s relationship with Eli causes a slow and subtle bloom in his personality.
It’s just been announced that Cloverfield director Matt Reeves will remake the film for American audiences. I’m sure that he can get the bloody action right like in most American remakes of foreign horror films, but let’s hope he won’t defang Let the Right One In’s depth.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (3) Directed by Tomas Alfredson. • Starring Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar and Henrik Dahl. • R, 114 min. • At the Osio Cinemas.