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It’s difficult to make a good vampire film. Why? Because vampires have lost their mystique. From The Count on Sesame Street to the campy vampires on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, vampires are not only accepted but embraced by the public consciousness. It’s hard to be scared or moved by vampires anymore in a traditional horror or creature feature film.
Leave it to the Swedish to turn vampires on their head and make them fascinating again. Adapted from him own novel Let the Right One In, writer John Ajvide Lindqvist and director Thomas Alfredson have crafted a unique vampire movie unlike any other I have ever seen. Instead of cheap thrills and loud action and Eurotrash seduction, this movie is smart and literate and resonant. It’s part horror film, part coming of age film and part love story, yet the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The story of Let The Right One In deals with the relationship that forms between 12 year old milquetoast Oskar and his new friend Eli, who just happens to be an age old vampire stuck forever at the awkward age of 12. Both Oskar and Eli are lonely and damaged and their friendship and budding romance help bring out the life in each other, even after Oskar realizes that Eli is a bloodsucking vampire.
Let The Right One In is not your traditional horror film. The movie is not about the plot or the events that unfold. It’s a story of awakening and love and acceptance. It’s about the awkwardness of adolescence. The director Thomas Alfredson doesn’t shy away from the darkness of the violence, yet he does not linger on it as one would expect in a traditional horror film. Instead, the movie’s horror is brought out by the atmosphere and the no-nonsense, realistic approach the director takes the supernatural elements. He plays to the emotional impact of the horror as opposed to the shock factor.
Compared to most movies in theaters today, Let The Right One In is a breath of welcome fresh air. The movie is paced perfectly and avoids the fast cutting and over-the-top stylistic flourishes that plague most American movies. There is also a return to classical compositional framing that burns the stark images from the movie into your mind. You could freeze frame the movie at any point and be left with an image as haunting as a painting by Johannes Vermeer. And there is a stillness in the movie that only accentuates the depth of the moving relationship between Oskar and Eli. Let The Right One In is a movie that will stay with you after you have seen it. The Moose thinks that this is not only the best vampire movie of the year, sorry Twilight fans, but also one of the year’s best movies.Buy the Moose a cup of coffee.