Let The Right One In Review: Bloody Brilliant
The noughties’ tendency to label anything gorny (gore porn) as ‘horror’ inevitably tainted a genre that had once been as focused on slow-build, character-centric chills that were able to gradually worm their way under your skin, then today’s seat-jumping, surround sound thunderclaps and excessive, exploitative dismembered boobs.
Somewhere along the way, it seems, horror decided to rip out and devour its heart in favour of actually using it.
Well take a Saw to your Hostels, because Tomas Alfredson’s unassumingly disarming, unerringly chilling take on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 critically acclaimed vampire novel is sure to sink its fangs into your heart and pump fresh blood into the genre.
It’s 1981 in middleofnowhere, Sveeeden, and 12 year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is living your typical pre-pubescent dream; bullied, neglected and generally unheard. A timely arrival by creepy old recluse Hakan and his alluring 12-year old (ish) ward Eli (Lina Leandersson) catalyses a friendship between the tweens that soon reveals Eli is far more than your average Girl Next Door, and paves the way for an elegiac, dark and bizarrely heart-warming take on the vampire tale.
First things first. This is a sloooooooow movie. Anyone who’s just seen clips of snow and vampires expecting another 30 Days of Night is way off base, and there’s often more to experience in the moments unsaid or unseen than the spectacle of a feral Eli unleashed.
The beautifully tender, oddly endearing relationship between the two is as testament to Hedebrant and Leandersson’s performances as it is the script, direction and sound (all of which are, to pardon the pun, dead on).
Oskar’s angelic, ABBA-Aryan face and Eli’s wounded, dark-eyed naïf make an initially unlikely couple grow into the most tender childhood romance since My Girl.
That isn’t to say this is another limp, emo-fuelled High School Nosferatu like Twilight. Indeed, the moment where we finally find out quite what happens when the titular vampire myth concerning vampires and household thresholds gets tested is all the more horrific because of the connection made between the two. The pained looks and imploring eyes hit you far harder than the reams of blood gushing across the screen.
Similarly, the slow, tempered art-house direction guarantees that the visual spectacles puncture the story like a burst artery – wild, bloody and goretastically thrilling. With its gradual, turning of the screw pace, everything builds to a truly unforgettable climax that is in turns horrific, heartwarming and amusing.
Dark, beautifully twisted and surprisingly elegant, Let The Right One In isn’t the greatest film you’ll ever see, nor the scariest, but it what it does do – and exceptionally so – is craft an affecting, timeless story from the bloody corpse of a genre that many had assumed bled dry.