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The little boy Oskar must be a rather lonely kid. He plays alone, suffers occasionally from school bullies and has this sad glance around his eyes that loners tend to feature. His new neighbour Eli is a girl a bit older than him, no mother, just what goes as her father, and it looks as if she would be his match. They make friends, even though it is only at night that they meet on the playground and hang out. They become closer friends, maybe they are going out with each other, and they love each other a bit. The girl’s life takes a turn that forces her to go away and start somewhere else. And Oskar is willing to come along, even though she feels cold at night.

Is it a spoiler to say……. (now is your chance to get out of here if you read reviews, but cannot stand spoilers) ….. That the girl is a vampire, a niece of Vlad Dracul, Impaler of the Carpats, so to speak? It is the advertising catchline, after all, so no big surprise here when we see that she actually is one of these night creatures, indeed confined to the night, and to some other rules we know from vampire heritage: she can only enter the house when somebody invites her, and there is a heart-breaking scene where she shows her new friend that even though he is nasty to her, she is willing to trust him a long way. She goes into his house before he invites her, and shows him that she is willing to suffer.

It is a gory film, with people getting killed, decapitated (no big difference here, I know), pouring acid over their faces, ripping off body parts and taking bloody vengeance. The are scenes that glorify revenge and make us cheer when the bad guys get what they had coming. Even though it is about kids, the kids their age cannot be the target group. It rather is the charme spread by kids, creating sometimes false clichée reactions among the grown-ups, with which the film confidently plays. The girl is, when it comes down to it, a compulsive killer, the boy is a ruthless collaborator, and there is no need to like the two just because they are little. We like them because they are very human and lost and in love and desperate. The fact that one is a vampire and the other factual orphan does not matter.

It was said that the film is transgressing the genre boundaries, but I think that’s not true. Vampire films have always been interesting when the vampires had a strong core of humanity in them – and when their non-human nature and their human desires tore them to pieces. Ask Count Orlok, and also those lost creatures of Abel Ferrara’s genre venture. If they were superhuman creatures, they would have much less to suffer. The film does, however, provide a very nice and warm-hearted story about loneliness in a violent environment, and by adding the feature that one of them has to take on this violence as a means of survival, and the other one is at liberty to do it out of love, there is a new and interesting perspective, indeed, that makes a film that is worth watching anyway for its night and snow images and its crunching snow sound carpet, also an interesting character study

Mr Ebert also loves it, as does almost everybody else.

One Comment

  1. Great post. I loved the book and I’m willing to watch the film. Hope the gorey material is just a tool into the script and not vice versa

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Let Me In (Matt Reeves 2010) « Cine-Blog on 11 Jun 2011 at 8:57 pm

    […] hated the idea of remaking the brilliant Swedish vampire-teenage-coming-of-age-romance “Let the right one in”. The announcement came at the same time as the announcement to remake the “Millenium Trilogy” […]

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