Let the Right One In

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let the right one inI’d love to make the teenagers that love Twilight go and see this. I figured after the successful and poorly written Twilight books and now film series we’ll be getting – that just about everything that has been done with vampires has been. I was wrong. Out of Sweden we get this beautifully shot original take on the genre.

Directed by Tomas Alfredson (based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindgvist, who also wrote the screenplay), this story involves a 12-year-old couple. He’s the quiet boy who doesn’t have much of a home life and is picked on at school. She’s the new girl to the apartment complex. She likes to walk barefoot in the snow, she smells funny, and vomits when eating candy (this is gonna save him a fortune on Valentine’s Day, although it might be a different heart she’ll want).

There’s something about a horror flick that can be understated that makes the violence that much eerier. Although it’s violent enough that it will probably be too bloody and dark to get nominated for the best foreign film at the Academy Awards – but it should be.

This is one of the few films that deals with bullying, where you see the kid being picked on fantasizing later about the stabbing deaths of his classmates. It’s realistic, but also chilling. There have been comedies that have done that type of scene for laughs (I’m thinking of Steve Buscemi in an Adam Sandler comedy, I believe). And it’s this very scene that shows how sometimes kids that are bullied can reach a boiling point and extract revenge by shooting up their schools. That’s what happened in that famous case here in Santee a few years ago.

The kids are played by first time actors Kare Hedebrant and Lina leandersson, and both are great. Lina has a face that exudes a childlike innocence in some scenes, and guilt in others.

Most of us know that vampires don’t like sun and drink blood…but I had to research a little more to find out that one of the myths is that they have to be invited into a room (hence the title).

We know women lie about their age, but when the 12-year-old boy asks her if she’s 12, she replies “I’ve been 12 for a very long time.” I thought — they say that when they’re middle-aged, too.

Having a 12-year-old vampire is great for a few reasons. Evil kids are always creepier. They just have a look on screen, which is why we were freaked out watching Children of the Corn. Remember those twins in The Shining? Or Carrie dripping with blood? Even the debut performance of Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire – it’s a look, voice, and dialogue that implies they look young, but are really much older, wiser, and eviler than you can imagine.

I loved that there wasn’t a lot of expository dialogue. We wonder who the man is this girl lives with. It’s obviously her father, we think early on. Yet how would he have a vampire child? And why does he do her hunting while not drinking any of the blood himself? Later in the movie, I had a whole different take on who he was. It’s open for interpretation, which is fun. It puts us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and is such a layered film.

I’ve always found elements of bullying in movies to be very powerful. I think most people do. I saw My Bodyguard once when I was 11 and I still remember it all. In this movie, it’s not a big guy in an Army jacket that the nerdy kid hires. This girl ends up helping him out with the bullies and shows that sometimes girlfriends really have your back. A scene in the swimming pool is the most interesting bully/revenge sequence ever shot in the history of cinema.

This movie was dripping with melancholy…and lots of blood. Yet it wasn’t exploitative in the violence. Often times, that makes it all that more effective.

It’ll be the biggest surprise at the movies I had all year, as I had no clue what I was in for. It gets an A-.