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Let the Right One In

Released: 2008

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 1 hr 54 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist

A bullied young boy befriends the vampire next door.

Brilliantly made vampire movie.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 7 years ago

I should say at the outset that I’ve only seen Let the Right One In in the widely criticized DVD version, with subtitles that director Tomas Alfredson himself has called a “turkey translation.” And yet, when compiling a list of my all-time favorite movies a couple of months ago, Let the Right One In was somewhere in the top 70. If this movie is already that great, then I can’t imagine what wonders await when I get to see it in the form the filmmakers intended!

The story is about a lonely Swedish boy named Oskar (Kare Hedebrant). Oskar is tormented by a group of boys at school, and has violent fantasies about taking revenge on them. He’s in the middle of one of these fantasies when he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), the new girl next door, who becomes the best vampire friend a boy could ever have.

Another key character in the film is Hakan (Per Ragnar), who lives with Eli. He murders teenage boys, drains the bodies and gives the blood to Eli. The background of their relationship isn’t spelled out in the movie, but I think Eli needed a confidante and recruited a child killer. It’s the coldest, most ingenious aspect of the story.

But the central relationship is between Oscar and Eli. I can say without a doubt that this is the most romantic Swedish vampire film I’ve ever seen. These are unusually serious children, with problems both ordinary (teen bullying) and extraordinary (vampirism), and the way they cling to each other is remarkably moving. These are two of my favorite child actor performances ever. Never for a moment do we doubt the authenticity of the feelings expressed.

I had a very personal and visceral reaction to Let the Right One In. Oscar’s revenge fantasies are something I shared as a bullied teen (but like most kids never acted on), and seeing this brilliantly made vampire movie was an incredibly cathartic experience. The final 10 minutes, both the graphic indoor pool scene and the touching final scene on the train, belong on a highlight reel of Best Moments in Movie History.