Fantastic Fest Review: Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In
by Alex Billington
September 21, 2008
Ever since this 28-day worldwide film festival tour began, I've been in search of those elusive indie gems, foreign or domestic, to fall in love with. I've found a few of them so far, specifically Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, but I've been coming up short otherwise. That finally changed tonight when I caught a screening of a Swedish horror film called Let the Right One In. I'm quite hesitant to call it a horror film because it is so much more than that, but at its base, it's horror, at least in its content. But as for the actual story, it is one of the most interesting and compelling relationship dramas you'll ever see on the big screen this year. Find this movie right now, watch it at any cost, as soon as you can - it is that amazing!
Let the Right One In is a film where the less you know going in, the better. In a small, snowy town in Sweden, a lonely, bullied boy named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) befriends a peculiar girl who only runs into him outside at night. Before long, we discover that Eli (Lina Leandersson) is actually a vampire, but not exactly the "Dracula" kind that most imagine. Let the Right One In is less of a horror film and more of a sweet story between Oskar and Eli and the troubles that ensue when she must find more victims to feed on. In essence, it's not like any vampire film before it. Instead of a violent, bloody tale of lust and redemption, it's a very dark and absorbing coming-of-age story about two kids simply falling in love.
This isn't a typical horror movie; nothing jumps out of the dark, nothing is scary enough to cause anyone to look away, but it does have a few disturbing scenes. However, they're so intricately worked into the film, that even those scenes won't cause anyone's heart to beat too fast. The chemistry between Oskar and Eli and the mood of the entire film really make it one of those stories that you'll instantly fall in love with, and I really mean that. You feel the love between the two of them, even when she's covered with blood, and you completely understand why it's such a challenge for them to live their young lives. But I never struggled to enjoy every last second of it, from the snow falling in the opening scene to the thrilling end.
All I can do is suggest that everyone see this as soon as possible. If you're not a horror fan, don't worry, you'll find so much else to enjoy. If you're not a romance fan, don't worry, you'll still find so much more to enjoy. Let the Right One In is unquestionably one of my favorite films of the year so far. And I'm sure I won't forget it as the year wraps up. It's more than a horror film, it's more than a romantic drama, it's more than a coming-of-age story, it's a remarkably mesmerizing tale of love, vampires, and bullies. It's rare to find such an incredible foreign film like this these days, but I finally found one. As more people begin to discover this film as well, I'm certain we'll be hearing a lot more about it. Don't miss this indie gem!
Fantastic Fest Rating: 9.5 out of 10