Let the Right One In Review: When Horror Isn’t Horror

Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), bullied and craving revenge, meets Eli (Lina Leandersson). Eli is also twelve, but has “been twelve for a long time”. Set in the suburbs of Stockholm in the early 1980s, Tomas Alfredson brings us a tale of childhood loneliness, love, and revenge.

Let the Right One In was released in 2008, years after numerous movies and TV shows exhausted the idea of the vampire. However, this film takes a tired sub-genre and makes it interesting again by shifting the focus from the horror itself to its effect on the characters. This involves a lot of slimming down of the narrative from the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel of which it is based. There’s a few side characters as well as an entire subplot that is completely omitted. It pays off, since the book itself is a little meandering, and the film transcends the source material because of the way it conveys backstory and character through cinematic language. Show-don’t-tell is a method that Alfredson abides by, deciding to leave certain plot elements up to the audience to decipher. There is no strict overarching narrative voice, and its ending is cryptic enough to be regarded as cynical, tragic, or optimistic. What is certain is how intimate and involving the relationship between Eli and Oskar is. It’s not surprising that selecting the lead actors was a year-long process of open castings held all over Sweden, as both Hedebrant and Leandersson are perfect in their roles.

Read the full review

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