An innocent rendition of love & a tragic exposition of horror, Let the Right One In is a beautifully crafted romantic horror film from Sweden and is based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. Although the mythology of vampires dates back to 18th century or even before, it has continued to make its mark felt in today’s media and is still very much a part of our pop culture. There have been countless portrayals of vampires in music, TV shows & movies in the past, but of all those portraits, especially the ones in cinema, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is among the rarest & finest examples of this legendary folklore done right with an unmatched respect for its legacy, without being a ‘typical’ vampire film but something much more unique.
Let the Right One In is a story about two lonely kids and explores their budding relationship in a sensitive but remarkable manner. Oskar is a 12-year old boy, whom no one wants to be friends with, whose parents live separately, and who is constantly bullied by his classmates but never strikes back. One night, he encounters a young girl, seemingly of his age named Eli, who has recently moved in next door, and although she seems peculiar to him at first, Oskar is completely fascinated by her & a friendship develops between the two. As their young relationship blossoms, Eli encourages Oskar to stand up against his tormentors, while Oskar learns a dark secret about Eli that eventually changes his life, forever. Apart from being a somewhat coming-of-age story, the film also deals with existent issues of bullying, revenge & murder.
The direction by Tomas Alfredson is an absolute class. Each & every element of this film is treated with immense care and Alfredson has captured the mood of the film & performances with utmost sincerity while keeping everything delicately balanced. The brilliant screenplay is written by Lindqvist himself and his decision to tone down the graphic violence by putting more emphasis on the relationship between Oskar & Eli turns out to be a masterstroke as it instantly connected with the viewers and pulled them more in rather than repulsing them out. Cinematography is pure wizardry as it provided a profound sense of calmness & beauty to the entire film and is exquisitely carried out. Editing paces the film as if a fine poetry was being written on film canvas. Visual & sound effects are very subtly done. And finally, the score by Johan Söderqvist is an astonishing work of art, romance & tenderness and is the most beautiful soundtrack to ever grace a horror film.
Coming to the performances, Kåre Hedebrant & Lina Leandersson are unquestionably ideal in their roles of Oscar & Eli, respectively. The on-screen chemistry between the two is spot on & in perfect dose from the very beginning and both did a fantastic job in pulling off their unusual characters on-screen, not just with the dialogues but also with their superb use of body language & emotional expressions. One of the most pleasing things to watch in the film is how both Kåre & Lina continue to challenge each other throughout its 114 minutes of runtime which, as a result, contributed a lot in lifting the entire story by a certain margin & is one of its biggest strength. Also, the film tries to take a completely different route with its depiction of horror. There are sequences in the film that are brutally graphic to look at but, unlike most horror films of today, this film doesn’t stay there forever to choke on it but simply moves ahead with its elegant narration.
In the end, I can’t stress on how beautiful, amazing & soul-stirring this film is and how adamantly & meticulously it portrays the myth of vampires down to the smallest of details; the details which most films of its genre basically choose to ignore. Overall, with its quiet approach to a violent subject matter, spellbinding direction, finely polished screenplay, captivating performances, arresting cinematography & delightful score, Let the Right One In is a sweet, tender & dark tale of a young friendship, love & revenge with nothing but innocence at its heart. The best way to approach this film is to see it as a romance that elegantly blends its heartfelt drama with elements of horror. One of the finest films of its genre & possibly the greatest vampire film ever made, Let the Right One In is one of the best narratives I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time & is a rare example of a romantic film that I absolutely adored. Very highly recommended.