Film review: Låt den rätte komma in [Let the Right One In] (2008), directed by Tomas Alfredson, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Currently keeping up the 222nd spot on the IMDb Top 250 list, it’s Swedish vampire flick Låt den rätte komma in, or Let the Right One In in English. I believe it had a Hollywood remake using that title as well.
Either way, it’s set in the early 1980s some time, in one of the suburbs of Stockholm. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a child of about 12 or so, who is bullied in school. One cold winter’s eve, when he’s in the playground on the estate where he lives, a strange girl of a similar age, Eli (Lina Leandersson) appears. They start talking, and over the course of the film, a friendship is forged between the two.
There’s just one thing: Eli, as it turns out, is a vampire. I don’t think it was made clear how she was turned, but her father/familiar/ghoul (?) Håkan (Per Ragnar) is keeping her with a supply of blood, by basically butchering people in the woods.
The film also features Ika Nord (from Ika i rutan, a very bizarre children’s programme I grew up watching) as Virginia, with Karin Bergquist and Henrik Dahl as Oskar’s parents.
The important thing to note with this film is that it’s not about vampires going around killing innocent people and sucking their blood. Nor do they sparkle – thank goodness. It’s about a friendship between two children, both with their own set of issues. One is bullied in school, the other one … well, she can’t go to school full stop, as daylight would burn her to a crisp.
I guess that’s why the film really works. Sure, darkness is ever present (most of it seems to happen in the evening, for obvious reasons), and there are scenes of bullying that are difficult to watch, but there’s not a lot of blood or gore – some, yes, you can’t really get away from it in a vampire film, but the feel is more raw, honest and real than most vampire films. Vampires in suburbia, just trying to get by.
It’s a little bit odd, it’s low key and quiet, but it’s good, and it sucks you in. Very good performances all around, but particularly from Hedebrant and Leandersson. Who says you need to be an adult to be a good actor?
Låt den rätte komma in is in Swedish but subtitled in English, and I think if it’s possible, you should watch it in original language rather than a dub, because if a film is dubbed, it tends to lose a lot of the feel that you get from the original language. (Cutsey Disney cartoons, for the most part, less so. I actually vastly prefer the Swedish dub of Robin Hood over the original English!) I just think you’d lose out if you watched it dubbed into a different language, that’s all.
Good film. A bit slow at times, perhaps, but well made.
4 out of 5 ice skates.