Let The Right One In – movie review

...and he's the Normal one!

Oskar is not a happy 12 year old. He is frequently bullied by the other boys at school and spends the evenings skulking around his broken home, harbouring fantasies of revenge whilst keeping a scrap book of any reported murders. It would be tempting to say he is not your normal pre-adolescent, but for all his insecurities, perhaps he’s not that different from you or I at that age: confused, scared, looking for love or at least guidance.

“Let the Right One In” finds young Oskar living in an early 80’s snowy suburb of Stockholm. When a young girl moves in next door, his attentions are quickly enchanted away from his kitchen-sink drudgery, and the two soon begin to form a firm relationship…..

When people say “vampire film,” chances are you’ll think of Christopher Lee in “Dracula“; the action packed “Blade” movies, or maybe even mopey emo-teens in “Twilight.” This film is an entirely different beast. The vampire in question here is neither animalistic, spiteful, nor celebratory. Feeding is an unenviable Hobson’s choice, and treated like a dirty secret.

Stockholm’s wintry setting forces a snowed-in placidity on the story and its players. With everything bathed in an almost antiseptic white glow, it is only the garish 80’s winter wear or the occasional splash of bright red blood on  snow that shocks you out of the setting’s muted mundanity. Such a deliberately bland backdrop means that focus is cleverly forced onto the characters and their relative needs. Admittedly there are a handful of violent or shocking scenes, but rather than go for explicit gore, it is the casual acceptance and display of these events that ground them in a stronger reality, backed up by justifiable motivations.

Alas, no film is without its flaws, and a sub-plot involving gossipy townsfolk detracts from the main story, feeling sometimes like an Eastern Bloc telenovela, reaching its nadir with a needless and silly cgi fracas.

The film’s two young leads are both convincing and winning as characters who are (differently) old beyond their physical age, but crystallised for this instant in pre-pubescent, sexless bodies, and it is in these two individuals that we consistently find the film’s most nuanced and expressive moments.

Let the Right One In is a thoughtful, considered, and provocative film. The characters have weight and believability, they earn their resolutions and our trust in them. You will most likely find yourself thinking about this film for days afterwards, and for that it must be applauded.

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