“Squeal like a piggy”
I still have no idea what has made vampires so in fashion this year, but I am kind of glad they are. Sure you’ll get the mainstream, watered-down stuff like Twilight, but along with that are the surprises like HBO’s “True Blood”. Let’s go ahead and put Sweden on the list of fresh takes as Tomas Alfredson’s Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel, is quite unforgettable. Not since the Russian supernaturally inclined Night Watch have I seen this subject matter brought to life in such a seemingly unique and original way. It is the sheer realism that makes the film so unnervingly tough to watch, especially since our leads are only twelve years old—more or less. The atmosphere is starkly bleak, the pacing and composition methodically precise, and the complete whole just beautiful to set your eyes upon. You’ll feel as though the chill has entered your room, all oxygen sucked out as in a vacuum, but you will not be able to turn away.
The story consists of your usual, bullied middle-schooler, taking the abuse and acting out his revenge in the confines of his own solitude. Without friends, young Oskar finds himself talking to the air, or a tree, wielding a hunting knife and doing to his imaginary counterparts that which the real miscreants do to him. It is his revenge-induced speech that catches the attention of a young girl, just moved next-door, named Eli. She knows the rage he feels only too well, except, when it comes to her bloodlust, it is necessity and not desire. This vampire is made to kill, something her guardian, (is it her father? Her uncle? An old friend that has aged while she has not?), attempts to protect her from by killing and gathering blood while she stays safe indoors. Alive for so long, feeding on the dead to survive, she finally finds a friend, someone much like her—an outsider that will not be understood—that she can possibly be herself with, that she can help to realize he does not want to become a killer.
What sticks with you most, after watching, is the amazing sense of detail throughout. Right down to the mucus on Oskar’s mouth from the cold weather, everything is thought of, letting you enter this world as though it’s right in front of you despite the fact vampires exist. When it comes to that mythical creature too, though, you can’t fault the three-dimensionality. All the things you may wonder about: What happens when one goes into sunlight? What happens if it enters without being invited? How does a bite affect its victim if not killed as a result? They will be touched upon and answered. Supernatural strength, inhuman speed, and the ability of flight? Just keep your eyes open because it’s all here, displayed in a way that you could almost believe is ture. Alfredson creates a world much like our own, same rules and same emotions, you just have to worry a bit more about who you let into your house.
But don’t think of this as a vampire story; it is so much more than that. The performances by Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson as Oskar and Eli respectively vault it into a tale about humanity and love. The bond these two misfits create is stronger than anything you can imagine, as they will do anything to keep the other safe. Eli asks at one point if Oskar would like her if she wasn’t a girl and he says sure. It is a query that intrigues on the basis that you believe her being a vampire means she is dead and no longer human, yet, as a short scene shows us, the question of gender may be more than that, especially since she says that she is not dead, she just feeds on blood. Watching her puke when trying to digest just one piece of candy, or what happens when she enters her friend’s apartment uninvited, shows the unglamorous lifestyle she lives. This is not the immortal—live without consequences—riot you may have seen before. Being a vampire is a curse, but one that has its advantages, as you will see.
That leads into the question of the title and whether it regards Oskar or Eli. Does the boy let the right vampire into his life, the person he can relate to and enlist to help him, or does the girl let the right human in, someone she can allow herself to love and care about despite the monster she knows she is? These two become inseparable on a very spiritual level, one that puts them to the ledge of killing in order to protect the other. However, the ability to commit murder is much different than the desire to. As you will see at the end, vengeance can be both brutal and rewarding. In what could be the single best take all year, a static shot, underwater in the school pool, an angle so meticulously positioned that the artistry leaves you just as speechless as what occurs in the frame, you will be hard-pressed to forget what retribution looks like…and the smile will haunt you.
A piece of art, through and through, this carefully paced tale of friendship and love between two worlds is not to be missed. Nor is it to be disregarded and thrown to the side as another horror film. It is a tale of humanity that only the naïveté of children can show. Complete with cinematography that could be freeze-framed at any moment and hung in a gallery, Låt den rätte komma in grabs ahold and doesn’t let go.
Låt den rätte komma in 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½
 Kare Hedebrant stars as Oskar in Magnet Releasing’s Let the Right One In (2008) Copyright © Magnet Releasing. All Rights Reserved.
 Lina Leandersson stars as Eli in Magnet Releasing’s Let the Right One In (2008) Copyright © Magnet Releasing. All Rights Reserved.