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Let The Right One In

Some words inspire fear into the hearts of filmgoers. Amongst them are “vampire” and “romance.” These two terms, when used in conjunction with one another, will cause some to scarper from movie theatres in fits of madness, babbling about horrors that cannot be unseen—not unlike the protagonists of virtually every H.P. Lovecraft story.

And can you blame them? Who among us can forget the achingly uninteresting love story between Gary Oldman and an inanimate wooden plank in Francis Ford Coppola Presents Bram Stoker’s Dracula?

Still, despite this spring being tapped far too often, a demand for vampire love remains. Remember that a certain portion of the viewing audience for Buffy, The Vampire Slayer hoped against hope that Spike and Buffy would get together. Think about that. A portion of that show’s audience was pining for an immortal, would-be rapist to fulfill his three-season dream of an abusive, co-dependent relationship with a scowling, perpetually depressed ex-cheerleader.

It’s true what they say: TV and film really are better than real life!

Funnily enough, the one film that breathes any life into this undead and fanged horse didn’t get a wide release in North America. The 2008 Swedish film, Let The Right One In, is an engrossing love story between a vampire and the boy who loves her that’s unexpectedly sweet, funny and unsettling.

The story revolves around Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson); both are quiet, disaffected adolescents who meet during a 1980s winter. Oskar’s isolation boils down to his shyness, which makes him the frequent target of bullies. This alienation is less than passing for Eli, who’s been 12 years old for a very long time. As Oskar develops a relationship with his undead love interest, he begins to fight back against the bullies at school. But the sadistic cretins soon plot a nasty revenge.

Director Tomas Alfredson has crafted a riveting, understated narrative here. Between all the snowy imagery is an understated tale that offers plenty of ambiguous plot threads and a real sense of wonder and dread. Best of all, the film returns vampirism to its unglamorous roots: Eli’s life is ugly and difficult, though there is a clever nod to the vampire’s obsessive tendencies in a few scenes with a Rubik’s Cube.

If there was any justice in this pitiless universe, Let The Right One In would’ve soared into theatres last year with the slogan “if you only see one vampire youth romance movie this year, Let The Right One In.” Hopefully, the DVD will rectify that oversight and this unusual vampire flick will find the audience it deserves.

Adam Clarke