Life’s tough for Oskar.
He lives in the kind of urban sink estate that makes Auschwitz look like Balamory. He’s beaten and bullied at school. He wets his skinny jeans. He has the same haircut as Peter Stringfellow, albeit without the lowlights which give that man his fabled virility. He spends his nights in the playground beneath the window of his apartment block, and hacks at objects with his vegetable-peeler-shaped penknife, fantasizing that he is mutilating his bullies.
Despite all these minuses, or perhaps because of them, he attracts the attention of Eli, a new kid on the block who can jump like a cat, and whose bedroom just happens to be separated from Oskar’s own by a very thin wall. And so begins a beautiful friendship. Eli encourages Oskar to stand up for himself, who in turn, begins to fall in love with his mysterious new friend. There’s just one catch.
You see, Eli is a 200 year old vampire, who is trapped forever in the body of a 12 year old. She lives with Hakan, who’s not only a paedophile who is in love with Eli, but the mysterious serial killer that’s been terrorizing the community in his attempts to supply Eli with the fresh blood she needs. I say attempts, because Hakan, quite frankly, is no Harold Shipman. Such is his level of botchery, that Eli has become rather hungry of late, and so is contemplating foraging the countryside for her own dinners. Hakan, however, is no quitter. He assures her that despite being about as careful a criminal as Phil Spector, he can bring her back the sacred gallon this time.
This time though, he is trapped by his pursuers. Not wishing for the authorities to identify him, and thereby identify Eli, he does what anyone else would do. He exfoliates.
Now, seemingly about to starve to death, Eli finds herself forced to hunt. The community though, have begun to put two and two together, and soon, a local man named Lacke discovers Eli’s terrible secret, and resolves to put an end to the bloodletting.
And so through this black fable, our two young hearts pick their way, until a shared moment of violence forces Eli to flee, leaving a new, braver Oskar behind. But the bullies have already made plans for one final act of cruelty.
To say that Let The Right One In is a pleasant surprise is a large understatement. For starters, it’s a Swedish film, which is going to put off a lot of people. Frankly, those people can go back to their Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson “comedies”, their glass of Lambrini and their copy of Loaded magazine. If anything, the unfamiliar setting adds to the disconcerting atmosphere, the unsafe feel of the whole film. There’s something disturbing about places this bleak. Anything can happen to anyone.
Also how often do you see a vampire film that is so convincing in it’s monster? In Let The Right One In, you don’t doubt for a second that monsters exist, whether they’re the bloodsucking variety, the whip-wielding bullies, or the men who roam the streets armed with a blood-stained plastic tank and an acid bottle. Eli becomes just another evil on the streets, one more shadow in a city of darkness, though her evil fraction is seeking to be redeemed by the shred of humanity she discovers through Oskar.
And so born from a vampire movie, comes a love story between two outcasts who simply want to be together. That the movie is at once terrifying, heartbreaking and utterly beautiful, should be enough to convince you of my heartfelt devotion to it’s dark charms.