Vampire tale gets it frighteningly 'Right'

Kare Hedebrant (with ball) plays amisfit boy befriendedby a strange 12-year-old girl.
Kare Hedebrant (with ball) plays amisfit boy befriendedby a strange 12-year-old girl.
Posted: November 14, 2008

Here's a suggestion for you vampire-o-maniacs out there: Get ready for Twilight - opening next Friday (as if you didn't know) - by checking out the very fine, very frightening Let the Right One In.

Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, this cold, cracking Swedish noir centers on a misfit boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), befriended by a strange 12-year-old girl who recently moved in next door. However, as Eli (Lina Leandersson) explains it, she's been 12 for "a very long time." She also isn't bothered by the frigid Scandinavian winter - maybe because her body temperature is already running at zero.

And now and then, she shows up with blood all over her mouth.

With a masterly stillness, director Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In - set in the pre-cell phone early '80s - feels a lot like what would happen if David Lynch had decided to make a vampire pic. There's an amazingly surreal scene in a hospital room, when a nurse opens the curtains on a recently bitten victim. Another scene brings new and terrifying meaning to the term cat fight. It's a real horror show here.

The usual vampire genre metaphors are in play: infection, alienation, physical and spiritual hunger, social ostracism, eternal love. Because Oskar's also a bit of a dweeb (playing with his Rubik's Cube, talking to himself), he gets picked on by his classmates. And so Let the Right One In has a bully revenge theme going for it, too.

Funny, fear-inducing, with periods of voyeuristic gore and an undercurrent of anxiety and dread, Let the Right One In is up there with the bloodsucking classics.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

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