Let The Right One In Review
Written by: Tim Hannigan
The third annual “Toronto After Dark Film Festival” kicked off with one of the most original vampire films I have ever seen. It is hard to imagine a film tugging at your heartstrings while the main character is tugging at jugulars with her teeth but “Let The Right One In” is a sweet and moving coming of age story wrapped in a vampire film.
Oskar is a shy twelve year old growing up in a broken home who is constantly terrorized by a school bully and his sidekicks. Oskar dreams of making a stand and taking revenge on the local thugs, but lacks the will to take any action. A mysterious girl, Eli, moves in next door with an older man, and the lonely boy connects with the girl when they begin meeting up at the jungle gym in the building’s courtyard after dark. As a deep friendship develops between Eli and Oskar, murders begin occurring in the small town, and the victims are drained of their blood. The sweet girl that provides Oskar with his first real human connection is not human at all, but a vampire that has been twelve for a long time. While Eli is absolutely kind and sincere in her interactions with Oskar, she is also a ferocious predator as she feeds her thirst for blood.
The film has an amazing heart, and audience members will really connect with the relationship between Oskar and Eli. The performances by the young actors are mesmerizing. Both actors do an amazing job conveying the deep loneliness that plagues both of their characters. All that being said, however, this is not some after-school special or Disney-fied version of a vampire film. The Swedish film directed by Tomas Alfredson still delivers what fans expect from a vampire film – neck chewing, appendage spewing goodness. But unlike many mindless riffs on the all-too-familiar mythos, this film has a soul in the characters of Eli and Oskar which elevates the film and makes the story resonate on a much deeper level.
The film has a truly unique vision which will stay with you after the credits roll. It’s great to see that there is still room for something unique and original in the vampire genre.