LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

Låt den rätte komma in is a creepy, dark, depressed Swedish film about two lonely twelve-year-olds, one of whom is a bullied schoolboy, the other a vampire who tells him, “I’ve been 12 for a long time.” The silly script, by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel, was directed with an excess of style by Tomas Alfredson.
     The boy’s name is Oskar—an allusion to Günter Grass’s Oskar Matzerath in Die Blechtrommel. Eli, the vampire, is likely a fantasy by which Oskar imagines a redress of the injustice to which he is being routinely subjected. (Eli, after all, cannot help itself, it is driven to get blood to sustain its existence, and this helps justify for Oskar his own bloodthirst for revenge against offending classmates.) Oskar, whose parents are divorced, lives with his mother in a small apartment in a Stockholm suburb, Blackeberg. It is 1982, and it is outrageous what blind eyes Oskar’s teacher and the school administrators turn to the bullying that Oskar must put up with. One may argue that it isn’t necessary to let such reality in, but the film itself does this when Oskar adds newspaper accounts of area murders—mostly Eli’s nocturnal work—to his scrapbook that heretofore included accounts of broader violence on the world stage.
     The best moments involve Virginia, a woman whom Eli attacks but is not permitted to finish off. Virginia’s existence now is betwixt human and vampire. In one scene, cats one by one assault her/it; in another, at hospital, she/it spontaneously combusts when sunlight is let into the room.
     The film administers several jolts to the heart. It was named best foreign-language film by critics’ groups in Toronto, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Kansas City, Phoenix, southeast U.S.

B(U)Y THE BOOK

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