At 7 and 9:30 p.m. on March 8 and 9 in VU 552, ASP Films will be showing a very bloody vampire romance tale based on a novel of the same name. The film features two lovelorn youths that must come to grips with the fact that one of them is a vampire. Unlike a certain other movie this past year, which followed the story of two estranged lovers in the midst of vampires and also happened to be based on a hit book, “Let the Right One In” is a film that dwells on the darker implications of supernatural love.
Before I get to the review, I have a confession to make: I saw “Twilight” in theaters.
Now, before everyone starts jumping on the “why should I trust a movie reviewer that spends his time watching drama marketed to teenage girls” bandwagon, let me explain myself.
First of all, I only went to the movie because my mother was interested in seeing it. It’s not often that my mom and I get to spend time together, so I was more than a little excited to hear that she wanted to go see a vampire movie in theaters, especially since at the time I had no idea what kind of a vampire movie “Twilight” was. My mother isn’t really the horror movie type, so I should have known something was up.
Secondly, I hadn’t and still have not read any of Stephanie Meyer’s books. Being an English major, I’m constantly reading something for one of my classes and rarely get the opportunity to read new, hip books. But whatever the reason for my ignorance entering the theater, I left very disappointed.
Where was the blood? Sure, there was plenty of angst, something every story about vampires needs, but I felt the movie skimped on blood, another crucial element every vampire movie should use in excess. It is their life force, after all.
Luckily, ASP Films chose to present a very different vampire movie. “Let the Right One In” is a bloody, tragic and ultimately poignant film centered on two lonely Swedish children who find romance despite the alarming fact that one character is a vampire.
The story follows Oskar, a 12-year-old boy who finds himself bullied by a gang of boys larger than him at school. Oskar’s parents have recently divorced and neither shows interest in taking care of Oskar, allowing the young man ample time and freedom to explore his snowy surroundings. Oskar spends a lot of time alone, dreaming of the day when he’ll finally have friends to keep him company.
One day he meets Eli, a girl his same age that moves in next door with her father. Oskar and Eli immediately hit it off, meeting only at night under the cover of darkness.
Eli is different from the children that harass Oskar. For starters, she only comes out at night and Oskar has not seen her in school. At one point he comments that she looks more pale than normal and that she smells like a corpse. Still, Oskar is desperate for friends and Eli is certainly kinder than the bullies he encounters every day at school.
Soon, a string of murders occurs in Oskar’s small town, all of which involve bite marks on the neck. Oskar quickly discovers that his new friend is indeed a bloodsucker of the first class.
This development hardly hinders their friendship, though. Oskar later asks, “Will you be my girlfriend?” to which Eli responds, “Oskar, I’m not a girl.”
A romance buds between the children as they start spending time in Oskar’s bedroom, discussing the pros and cons of being a vampire. According to folklore, Eli and other vampires cannot enter a room unless they are invited first, which Oskar is happy to oblige, hence the title.
At all times, vampires are treated with the utmost seriousness, as if director Tomas Alfredson and author/screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist fully envisioned what a world with vampires might really look like. Eli is a vampire that fully understands the implications of every bite she takes, and Oskar is curious to hear about it. At one point in the film, one of Eli’s feeding sessions attracts a crowd of voyeurs, threatening to spoil her anonymity.
A natural chemistry forms between the two children—a testament to each child actor’s ability to handle such complex ideas—which forces both characters to consider the boundaries of humanity, love and loneliness.
While the treatment of the characters and the story in “Let the Right One In” are well-stated, it is the cinematography that illuminates the performances.
Unlike the living, green setting that “Twilight” inhabits, “Let the Right One In” rarely ventures outside of a dark world. The background is bleak, matching the outlook Oskar and Eli share. At times the blood of Eli’s prey is so dark, it looks more like pools of black liquid than a human substance. The cinematography is stylized, deliberate and always gazing without remorse at each violent attack and tender moment as they unfold.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. If you get queasy at the sight of blood or don’t think you can handle the idea of a prepubescent girl tearing out someone’s throat with her teeth, then “Twilight” may suit you better.
But, if you like your vampire movies like I do, gory, withering and without remorse, then “Let the Right One In” will quench your taste for blood.