Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Movie Review: 'Let the Right One In' (2008)

By Ryan Clark

It's rare that a foreign film takes off in the U.S. these days.  Typically, it becomes popular everywhere but the U.S. and someone decides to remake it in English for the majority of Americans who will not read subtitles.  Let the Right One In is an exception.  Yes, there was a successful American remake, but I would argue that the original became far more iconic in a short period of time.  This photo of a bleeding Eli is instantly recognizable – so much so that I could do without ever seeing it again – but I hadn't watched the film until now.

What took me so long?  I had heard this was one of the best horror films in years, but I guess I wasn't quite ready to believe the hype.  Roger Ebert said it's the best modern vampire film, and I would have to agree with him.  None of the other recent ones seem particularly good.  It's a genre I tend to avoid, because how many different ways can you depict a bloodsucker?  Well, Let the Right One In has some tricks up its sleeve and a few sequences that are startlingly original.  It's different and involving; almost like if Carrie was an untelekinetic twelve year-old Swedish boy who befriended a Swedish vampire girl in the 80s... directed by Ingmar Bergman (because, you know, he's the only Swedish director I can think of).

Yet I'm still not prepared to give this flawed film too much credit.  There's a real delicate atmosphere at work with the snowy setting, dead flesh-tinted cinematography, and lush orchestral score, but Oskar doesn't realize Eli is a vampire until well into the movie, and I found myself wishing it would move a little faster.  The conclusion is delightful in an E.C. Comics sort of way, but feels rushed after the two-hour setup.   

I wouldn't rank Let the Right One In anywhere near classics like Daughters of Darkness or Martin, but if you've got a hankering for a new-ish vampire flick, you aren't likely to find a better one.

Reviewed for Final Girl's SHOCKtober 2012.

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