Let the Right One In: not your ordinary Swedish vampire film

This is still playing in NYC and L.A. with other cities rolling out—go see it!

Let the Right One In*, a subtitled Swedish movie directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on an acclaimed novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is a vampire/horror movie that defies all expectations.

Snow blankets a working class suburb of Stockholm. At night, a 12-year-old boy feigns stabbing someone with a hunting knife. Oskar has no friends, school bullies torment him, and his divorced parents play distant roles in his life.

An odd unkempt girl moves in next door, and everything changes. One day, she jumps on top of the jungle gym in their apartment complex; on another day, Oskar shows her how to work a Rubiks Cube.

People have called this a horror movie, a vampire film, a supernatural thriller, but it is not really any one thing or even about vampires. One of those slow, quiet, disturbing, beautiful, and quite possibly brilliant category-elusive films, it is part coming-of-age, part horror, and part …something like a love story.

Someone once said that all vampire stories are love stories.

Let the Right One In doesn’t bother with history, exposition, or even dialogue. One scene—brief, dialogue-less, and easily overlooked—speaks more about the girl Eli’s age than any number could. Right One does use some of the tropes of vampire lore (sunlight, immortality, etc.), but in such a spare and singular way as to make each one carry the weight of an entire movie. Without giving anything away, I will say that the film’s title captures one of the final and most devastating scenes in the film.

It also brings up the question of how many of one’s ideas of vampires come from the supermodels found in Hollywood/ Twilight, True Blood and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the decadent glamour and history found in Bram Stoker and Anne Rice-type novels.

The less said about plot, the better. Let the viewer be surprised (don’t even watch the trailer). This is definitely not a kids’ movie, despite its ability to be both enchanting and horrifying at the same time.

The film’s been racking up awards on the film festival circuit, so already, Hollywood has come knocking to hatchet another quality foreign film (no offense, J.J. Abrams, blame My Sassy Girl), and the Swedish director is not happy. Something about why remake something that’s … already good? Rätt på,** Tomas!

* Also the title of a song by Morrissey
** Literally, “right on”

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