Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Countries & Regions: Sweden
Length: 114 mins
Released: 3 August 2009
Cat No: MP879D
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Let the Right One In
Also available on Blu-ray
Acclaimed Swedish horror film based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. Oskar (Kare... Read More
In his 1919 essay, The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud posits a kind of cognitive dissonance in which something is both familiar and strange at the same time. This juxtaposition of the banal and the strange for either uncanny or horrifying effect has been a staple of horror movies since the 1930s but arguably reached its apotheosis in Hitchcock's Psycho. Nowadays, horror films tend to rely on either cheap thrills (like switching up the volume between scene changes so that a closing door will get an audience up out of its seat) or pushing the envelope on gore to fulfil the requirements of the genre (Alexandre Bustillo's L'Interieur is probably the best recent example of this); rare indeed is the film that sets out to genuinely disturb - rarer still the film that achieves disturbance on every imaginable level.
Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In, adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own bestselling novel, is one such film.
Set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeburg in 1982, Let The Right One In concerns a brilliant blonde haired child of 12 called Oskar, who is being bullied at school and has to suffer a subdued home-life thanks in no small part to the fact his parents have recently broken up. Pretending to enact revenge on his bullies one day in his bedroom (waving his pocket knife about and threatening to make them squeal like pigs), Oskar spies new neighbours moving into the flat next door: a man in his fifties and, later, a young girl, also 12.
At first, Oskar and the girl, Eli, who doesn't look at all well, circle one another suspiciously but slowly they become friends. Elsewhere, we see the man Eli shares a room with gassing someone in a wood, hanging them upside down to bleed them like a pig. Disturbed by a dog, he flees without taking the bucket of blood he was drawing. We see an argument, Eli yelling how she'll have to take care of things herself. Within moments, a man wandering home from the local pub is attacked in an underpass, a small child leaping onto his back, hungrily sucking his blood. And so the film goes - developing the relationship between Oskar and Eli, tracing the path of her vampirism, its effect upon the local community, what happens to those people she doesn't quite finish off.
Let The Right One In, like Edvard Munch's famous 1895 painting, Puberty or Arnaud Gautier's L'Innocence, guilelessly operates in a genuinely unsettling area - that period of time in which a young girl has yet to become a woman but is not yet a child either. So many vampire films portray vampirism sexually - to be faced by a film in which vampirism is very definitely a hunger and a hunger that, unsated, acts on the host like a disease is remarkably refreshing. To then find such an interesting line coupled with sights that genuinely take your breath away (a woman combusting in a hospital bed, a roomful of hysterical cats, a bloody kiss between a vampire and her acolyte, a flash of mangled genitals) is something pointedly worth getting excited about.
No doubt there are things here that will stick with you for long after the viewing, for good and ill. This is a disturbing and original horror film (you know that because it's already in the process of being remade, undoubtedly sans all of the things that make it so remarkable, as we speak). The kind of film that you will want to watch and rewatch; the kind of film you will want to talk about; the kind of film that will crawl under the sheets with you last thing at night, forestalling any hope of sleep you might have just a few moments longer..