Let The Right One In

Hello and welcome to 2010! On this very first day of the year it’s custom to do two things, pondering about the future (all the best from me and the others behind DV) and looking back at the year we’ve survived. If the media reviews are anything to go by, 2009 was pretty gloomy. Maybe the Mexican flu was even the jolliest thing of the year. Looking back at my film top 10 of 2009 (the list appears next Monday), two things became apparent: on the one hand 2009 was the year Sweden boomed (three films in the top five), on the other hand young girls were not always what they seemed. One film combined both factors and is my deserved number one: Let The Right One In.

Yes, it may surprise you, but this is the first review of this film here at DV, despite appearing in most of our lists. I can’t vouch for the others, but I had the wicked plan to save the best for last. And no, nothing seemed a better number one than this one. True, it is overhyped, but it’s a great film that does deserve the attention. It even managed – and this is quite rare – to be liked by people who generally don’t like horror, which is quite an achievement. Even the Lord of the Rings trilogy (excellently directed by Peter Jackson) still struggles from convincing people who hate sci-fi, fantasy and horror to watch it. For some reason, Let The Right One In manages to fill the gaps.

The film introduces us to Oskar, a young boy who’s bullied by a couple of classmates. In his anger, he takes a knife and stabs a tree, imagining the tree is the bully. He’s observed doing this by a young girl, who’s just moved in next to Oskar’s mother. The girl is Eli, possibly even more of a loner than Oskar and adamant Oskar won’t be allowed to become her boyfriend. Eli has a good reason for that, as we’ll find out later in the movie.

Actually, I don’t know why I’m still hiding the plot of one of the most talked about movies of 2009, but at least we’re still sticking by the rules. So why is this a horror movie? Well, it’s actually a good point: despite involving vampires and the occasional spontaneous combustion, Låt den rätte komma in (to use its original title for once) adds as much drama to the film as there are horror elements. It looks as if this film was the breakthrough film for director Tomas Alfredson (°1965), whose next project will include Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman (whose botox overdoses have made her a horror genre of her own). And even though Kåre Hedebrant was quite convincing as the badly plagued Oskar, there’s no denying Lina Leandersson makes quite the startling debut as Eli.

Above all (and this does perhaps explain why it’s so popular) Let The Right One In chooses beauty above gore, a more uncommon approach. The film benefits from its snowy environment, but even in the other scenes the director paid a lot of care to how the movie would look on screen. Gore is there, but hardly ever is it emphasized (quite a welcome exchange to the thousands of recent horror movies which believe they’ll be so much better because they use gallons of fake blood).

So there you have it… people who didn’t like horror already had their vampire film to cherish (Twilight, starring the allegedly yummy Robert Pattinson), but now there’s a horror film horror fans can show to horror haters: the name is Let The Right One In and it’s my n°1 of 2009.

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