Sunday, April 17, 2016

Movie #354: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is a Swedish vampire movie starring Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leadersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, and Patrik Rydmark. It's one of the better vampire movies...really ever.

Oskar (Hedebrant) is a 12-year-old boy coping with constant, violent bullying. His parents are split (his father [Henrik Dahl] is implied to be gay, maybe? an alcoholic) and his mother (Karin Burquist) isn't  portrayed as the kindest of people. He meets a girl his age named Eli (Leandersson) who's moved in next door with a dour man (Ragnar). Of course, Eli is a vampire, and the man, Hakan, goes out at night, murders people, and drains their blood for Eli. Oskar, though, just enjoys having a friend, and the two grow closer.

Meanwhile, though, Hakan gets caught and kills himself, and Eli takes to hunting on her own, inadvertently infecting a local woman (Nord). The bullying gets worse, and Oskar fights back, injuring his main bully, Conny (Rydmark). He learns that Eli is a vampire, and that causes some strain (he also learns that Eli isn't actually a girl, but a boy who had his genitals removed - I have no idea how Eli actually identifies, though he does outright state "I'm not a girl" at one point). Finally, the bullies corner Oskar and try to drown him, whereupon Eli appears and slaughters them in some of the most effectively scary filmmaking ever, and the two of them get on a train bound for wherever.

This is one of my favorite vampire movies, because it nicely balances portraying vampires as sympathetic and portraying them as vicious killers. Yes, Eli is a vicious killer. He's not especially happy about that, but as he says, he's been 12 for a long time and he accepts what he is. Oskar, meanwhile, loves Eli for accepting him and protecting him, and is initially (appropriately) horrified by what Eli is. The movie also goes through the supernatural "rules" of vampirism without having a character just list them off, and you come away understanding how these vampires work.

At the same time, a lot of the movie is ambiguous. We don't know why Hakan is feeding Eli, but he's implied to have been with the vampire for a while. We don't know why Oskar's parents split, or, for that matter, why Oskar stays with his mom (he seems to enjoy his dad's company a lot more). Hell, I'd even be interested in knowing what the story is between Jocke and Lacke, but at the same time, none of these things are critical to understanding the movie and the characters. It's a superb Gothic romance and horror movie.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-low

Next up: Lethal Weapon 2