What does it take to make a vampire film? Garlic? Fangs? A hankering for fresh human blood? Many vampire films of the past have used these ingredients to make an instantly identifiable vampire flick. Let the Right One In touches on some of these themes but explores them in a different way, so that it never feels tired or predictable. It is a beautifully poetic Swedish film based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide. (The title of both novel and film was taken from the Morrissey song, “Let the Right One Slip In”). It deals with the relationship between 12 year old Oskar and Eli, his 12 year old (and then some) vampire child friend.
I was anticipating scares on the level of The Orphanage, but although there are scary moments and the tension builds nicely, it is never out and out terrifying. The film is grounded in real life and the stillness and the cold that hangs in the air is so heavy that even the mysterious appearance of a vampire child cannot lift it. The combination of the supernatural and the everyday compliment each other. It is because of this that Let The Right One In successfully sheds its traditional generic skin and works not only as a vampire film but also a touching drama and an effective thriller. The film is set in a run down area of Stockholm in the 1980s, where the snow is heavy and true friends are few. Oskar is being bullied at school and doesn’t have the confidence to do anything about it, until he meet Eli…
Let The Right One In refers to the vampire tradition of essentially asking permission to enter before praying on a victim or doing whatever else vampires might do. This and the ‘allergic to daylight’ theme are explored in a way that is fresh and ingenuitive. The other traditions like garlic and crosses don’t get a look in. Vampires have never really gone out of fashion, but at the moment they seem to be having a bit of a resurgence. 30 Days of Night tackled the genre well enough, I Am Legend didn’t really. Twilight became a cult, and BBC3’s Being Human gave the vampiric ones a bit of edginess. Let The Right One In takes the genre one step further. It is also probably the most romantic vampire film ever made.
What the film does lack is the depth and intricate sub-plots that the book had. But this is to be expected when you condense a finely crafted novel into a finely crafted two hour film. As with any decent foreign film, an American remake has been commissioned and is due to be released in 2010. So my advice to you, is to let the right one in and see the original.
Let The Right One In is released 10th April.
Running Time: 114 minutes