Once upon a time, when the U.S.S.R. was still the monolithic adversary of the West and we all lived on one side or the other of an Iron Curtain, there was an unhappy and lonely little boy somewhere in Sweden named Oskar who was viciously targeted by bullies at school. He had no friends, his parents couldn’t understand what he was going through, and thus he was slowly turning into quite the budding psychopath. He wasn’t capable of any real violence yet, but he was angry and sad and confused and definitely heading down the path of the abyss.
Then, one day, a little girl his age named Eli moved in next door.
She was a strange little girl. She couldn’t eat chocolate, couldn’t remember what day her birthday was, didn’t wear shoes when she walked in the snow, wouldn’t go into your house without being invited, and went out of her way to tell him that she couldn’t be his friend. Yet every night, when he’d go outside to play, she was there. She was lonely too.
Actually, now that I think about it, she was sort of normal for a twelve year old girl, but that’s beside the point.
The point is that this lonely little girl was a vampire, and that her moving next door was just another stop in a long list of nameless, faceless places she’d lived in. Her “father” was nothing but a familiar who went out at night and collected blood for her. And even though she was much older than she looked, she was still just a child inside and yearned for the company of another child.
You’d think this would be creepy and uncomfortable to watch as hell, but it’s not. It’s so sweet and cute and innocent and gentle. “Let The Right One In” reminds me of “Melody,” of all things. It’s horrifying at times, but isn’t really a horror movie. I’d even go so far as saying this would make a great date film. Women will melt watching this. Not only that, but it’d also make a fine film to show to the 10 to 16 year old crowd. Little kids, especially girls, will love this. Yeah, there’s some blood and one really quick shot of nudity, but just because they’re young doesn’t mean they’re stupid. Kids will totally get this.
Yes, Eli is a vampire and yes, she’s capable of spectacular violence, but it’s not just her body that hasn’t grown up. Her mind has also stayed 12 forever. She’s just a little girl deep down inside that isn’t quite capable of wholly understanding the hunger that drives her. All she knows is that she feels empty and alone because of what she is. Something that Oskar, despite not sharing her nature, understands as well. So that brings them close together despite their differences.
“Let The Right One” in is a touching story about loneliness and falling in love with someone who fills the hole in your heart. I really can’t say enough good things. I was moved beyond my ability to wholly put how it made me feel into words.
The best fairy tales always have so much darkness in them. That’s why they resonate so deeply. This is a magnificent film.