Some of you may have already heard about this film as it's built up quite a buzz on the festival circuit, but for those of you who haven't Let The Right One In is a 2008 Swedish film about a touching friendship built by two lonely children, Oskar and Eli. However the twist is that Eli is a vampire...
Now I'm not going to say anymore about the plot. Although I could happily write pages and pages discussing and analysising it, doing so would involve massive spoilers and really you want to see this film as fresh as possible.
However what I will say is that this film is hands down the best films I saw all last year. Yes better than The Dark Knight or Iron Man, better No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. Yes it is a horror movie, but it's also a whole lot more. It has all the intelligence and beauty of the best of the arthouse while still being a proper full blooded vampire story. It does for vampirism what Pan's Labyrinth did for fairy tales and what Wings of Desire does for angels. It is - and I don't use these words lightly - a modern masterpiece of cinema and, at the same time, one of the best vampire films ever made. It brilliantly melds high art with horror and creates something truly special.
Unlike so many horror films these days it doesn't rely on gore or jump scares to deliver the chills. And what's more it's not shot consciously like a scary movie. In the same way Pan's Labyrinth meshes the fantastic with the real world, Let The Right One In creates a very naturalistic version of a small Swedish suburb which just happens to include a vampire. So when the supernatural scenes occur they are utterly believable. It takes vampirism back to its roots and makes it actually frightening again. It is the perfect antidote to all the post Anne Rice sensual fops and the bumpy forehead street punk goons with magic ninja skills which have watered down the concept of the vampire in recent years.
However the genius of this film isn't just about the horror, it's real focus is the friends between Oskar and Eli. Their story is genuinely touching and is told with an honesty that you rarely find in films detailing the lives of children. And it is their friendship and it's implications that will linger in your mind.
It's beautifully shot and the performances are excellent - the two leads are remarkably both first-time actors too. I really can't find any niggles to highlight in this film. It's wonderfully constructed, no make that crafted, piece of cinema. And it's power comes from the fact that it manages to resolve it's story beautifully and yet after the wonderful closing scene you will be full of questions about the story and be wondering what the future holds for the characters.
Some additional in for for you - the film is based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist., who also penned the screenplay. And having just finished reading the book, which I also highly recommend, I must say that he and director Tomas Alfredson have done a brilliant job of bring it to the silver screen. Naturally there is a good deal of material which didn't make it into the film. Apparently this was partly down to the limitations of film running time but also they felt excluding some material made for a better cinematic experience. Most of what they chose not to include would have damaged some of the film's impact I feel by removing certain areas of ambiguity.
Therefore, for those of you interested, I would recommend seeing the film before reading the novel, which contains some of the answers to the lingering questions. But it also includes a major subplot not in the film which culminates in a truly jaw dropping fashion.
So far Let The Right One In has had a very limited US release but is set for UK release in April. Now I saw this by those fabled Other Means but rest assured I'll be first in line when it plays theatrically as I really want to see this on the big screen.
Seriously if you love film, see this movie. Don't be put off by either the arthouse or horror aspects, just see it and enjoy a film that transcends petty genre boundaries.