Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Twelve year old Oskar is a misfit, bullied by his classmates. The lonely product of a broken marriage, he spends his evenings brooding over a gruesome scrapbook – if he’s not acting out revenge fantasies in the snow covered courtyard of his apartment block.
When the mysterious Eli moves in next door, Oskar senses a kindred spirit. She’s as dark as he is fair, and shares his fondness for night time vigils in the playground. They are gradually drawn together, and romance blossoms – but Eli’s underlying strangeness can’t be ignored for long. She’s never out in daylight, is oblivious to cold, and arrived in town the same night the grisly murders started…
Primarily a drama, Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) is the poetic tale of two young outsiders trying to understand themselves in a world they don’t fit into. The vampire story is almost incidental, yet there’s enough blood spilled to keep even those with the most sanguinary tastes happy, and established vampire legends are twisted into the story in surprising ways.
Set during a harsh Swedish winter in the early eighties, the snow-blanketed landscapes are a visual reminder that things aren’t necessarily what they seem. The adult characters are as well muffled against sympathetic thought as they are against the cold, ensuring emotional isolation by building layers of miscommunication and oppressive silence into each interaction. The often blurred or obscured images add to the trapped feeling, making us want to escape this cold world as much as Oskar does.
John Ajvide Lindqvist has adapted his own best-selling novel for the screen, and the spare screenplay and powerful, sensitive performances of the two young leads make this original vampire story an emotional, scary, and turbulent ride.
This review was originally written for an online magazine, and is republished with permission.