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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let The Right One In (****)


Let The Right One In returns the vampire movie from the stock horror violence and profitable tween sexiness of recent years to its origins of moody dread. Here, the vampire is not romanticized or adrenalized; the toil, logistics, and misery of nocturnal bloodlust is on full display. Yet remove the vampire aspects from the movie and Let The Right One In is a sad, touching, strangely sweet story of Oskar and Eli, two desperately lonely 12 year olds living in bleak, wintry Sweden, who find a genuine connection with each other. The themes of love, loyalty, and sacrifice between the two children, one of whom has been 12 years old for a very long time, are moving and powerful. But the girl Eli is a vampire, who lusts for blood and must feed on the living. Oskar deduces this, sees it all for himself, asks the right questions, and understands. The stripped down, practical effects used for the vampire in Let The Right One In - such as when Eli climbs up the sheer wall of a hospital, leaps onto a victim to feed, and saves Oskar from the bullies trying to kill him at the swimming pool, are far more intriguing and terrifying than all the CGI Hollywood has been able to muster. Let The Right One In also answers the age-old question of why a vampire must be invited inside a home and what happens to her otherwise. Vampire horror aside, the heart of Let The Right One In is the relationship between Oskar and Eli, as he discovers what it means to truly have a friend you love and would do anything for. And Eli? Is she only using Oskar, sinking her fangs into him when he's young, guaranteeing a lifetime of co-dependence and tending to her nocturnal needs? Yes, she is. Though perhaps she does feel affection for Oskar as well. Or is Eli even a she? Perhaps. Though the vampire's heart no longer beats physically, it's still very much alive.