Thursday, 31 December 2009

Let The Right One In

This Swedish film, based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, centers on a bullied, loner 12-year old boy who makes friends with a girl who moves in next door, the twist being that she's a vampire...

In the hands of Hollywood, this could have been turned into a generic horror flick that would have passed by with little notice, but Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has created a masterpiece that is undoubtedly the best film of the genre. Everything about it is pitch-perfect: the restrained screenplay, the atmospheric photography of Hoyte Van Hoytema, Judy Becker's 80s production design and some terrific make-up from Donald Mowat's team.

But central to everything are Kare Hedebrandt as the boy, Oskar and Lina Leandersson as his vampiric friend Eli, who absolutely mesmerizes on screen. The film rests and ultimately triumphs on the believability of their relationship.

The horror element itself is handled with remarkable restraint. A lesser director would let rip with the overtly horrific scenes, but Alfredson delivers a masterclass in how horror should be portrayed, keeping Eli's murderous acts on a believable scale , their apparently normalcy making them all the more chilling. The final scene in particular is a tour-de-force.

Let The Right One In is so good it may just be my favourite film of all time. Time will tell on that, but it's definitely in my top three with Three Colours: Red and American Beauty. Interestingly, all three of these feature male outcast characters with strong female counterparts. I wonder what that says about me?

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