I have always been a fan of horror and science fiction films, even since the age of about six. Christopher Lee was my Mr. Rogers, Ray Harryhausen created my Sesame Street, and Godzilla was my New Zoo Review. I was thrilled every time my mother told me that something scary was going to be on, and on those rainy days, I would be glued to the television thrilled to see bug-eyed monsters, vicious aliens, dinosaurs and of course the staples of early horror films...Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolf Man, The Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Now that I am older--much fricking older--I still love those treasured favorites, but my tastes have evolved to include horror films that don't always have an outrageous looking monster, and the scares don't always involve a creature jumping out from behind a dark corner. Now, I also enjoy the subtle, the unseen and the suggested. Story and lore and characters are what draw my attention, with setting and mood contributing heavily to my favorite movies.
*****SLIGHT PLOT SPOILERS*****
Let the Right One In is set in Stockholm, Sweden and centers around 12-year-old Oskar, a shy, quiet boy who is being systematically bullied at school. He lives in a small apartment with his single mother and has begun to notice the new neighbors, Hakan and the young appearing girl, Eli. During their first meeting outside of their apartment in the cold dark snowy night, Eli informs Oskar that they cannot be friends and to forget about her, leaving the young boy bewildered and wondering how she can wander around in the snow in a shortsleeved sweater and not be cold. The self-imposed wall dividing them eventually vanishes and the two slowly become friends over a Rubik's cube and the revelation to Eli that Oskar is being bullied.
Meanwhile, one of the local residents has disappeared as a result of Eli's watchdog, Hakan, killing them so that Eli can survive off of his blood. He attempts to conceal the body in a lake, but it is found on one of Oskar's school field trips, and the hunt for the murderer begins. Hakan is discovered and attempting to conceal his identity and to further protect Eli, pours acid over his face, ending up in the hospital. Eli goes to her familiar and effortlessly scales the side of the hospital building to see him, where she ultimately refuses to feed on Hakan and the distraut man falls from the window to his death.
Eli, now alone, begins to form a closer bond with Oskar, who discovers that Eli is actually a vampire, and as a result of her need to feed and without the aid of Hakan, problems escalate between the townfolk and the vampire, and between Eli and Oskar. Conflict with the husband of a botched murder attempt and worsening trouble at the school threatens to destroy the pair's friendship and a subtle, yet startling ending delivers one of the best scenes that I have ever seen, and despite the horror, I found it necessary...gruesome, but necessary.
The cold darkness of Sweden is the perfect setting for this moody movie and perfectly reflects Oskar's loneliness and the loneliness felt by the ages old vampire, Eli. This is by no means a typical vampire movie and the fact that Eli is a vampire is only one piece of the story. Horror is another loosely filled genre for Let the Right One In, with the movie more adequately being classified as a drama or even a suspense.
I initially watched this movie with a group of five people and we were silent throughout, except for the ending, which we had to rewind to rewatch again just to be sure that we had accurately seen what had happened. We also sat through most of the short making of feature, which was interesting. Not a movie to watch if you are in the mood for jumping out of your seat, but one that you want to watch when you are in the mood for a great story and characters that you can empathize with. Very highly recommended.
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