Tomas Alfredson | 2008 | 114 min | Sweden
Set amid the darkness of the Swedish winter, Let the Right One In is essentially an adolescent love story: two misfits, a young boy and girl, find each other and make both of their days a little more bearable. Many of it's tropes will be recognizable. The awkward first meetings, the slow confiding in each other, and the growing to help each other with the trials of bullies and family are all there. The difference in this story is that the young misfit girl is actually a vampire with an elderly lover who harvests the blood of innocents for her to survive on. Granted, that difference is a significant one, but at it's heart Let The Right One In is still a story of naive human desire and affection in a world of fantastic horrors.
The boy, Oskar, is lonely at home and abused at school. He spends his empty nights fantasizing about revenge on his tormentors and filling a scrapbook with stories of brutal local murders. When the strange young Eli moves into his building he is immediately drawn to her. She is mysterious, strong-willed, and, most importantly, responds to Oskar's intense desire for companionship. As it dawns upon Oskar that Eli is a vampire, her nature is still less monstrous to him than the tortures he endures each day at school. And that's why Let The Right One In is so striking. The banal human ordeals are more recognizable and more horrible than the warmth and protection offered by Eli. The eerie performances of both young actors bring this home in each scene. Those creepy fucking young actors.
I will cut short this review to spare you too many reveals. All you need to know is that Let The Right One In is visually stunning, and by turns awful and beautiful. It hit all the right notes for me and is a film I expect to be thinking fondly of for a long time to come. This is a rare gem that surpasses the qualifier of being a "great horror" and is simply a great film.