Let The Right One In (Lat Den Ratte Komma In)
Let the Right One In is a chilling Swedish coming-of-age story that breathes new life into a tired vampire genre marred by American high school teenagers and Christian lobbyist novelists (Stephanie Meyer, Anne Rice).
It’s the early 80s in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeburg and 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is having a rubbish time. Bullied at school and lonely at home, Oskar spends his free time planning revenge in the snow-chocked yards outside the tower block apartment he shares with his mother. Then he meets newcomer to the area Eli (Lina Leandersson) who appears to be a pale androgynous girl. So begins a friendship that will change both their lives.
Adapted from his debut novel by Morrissey-loving Swedish horror writer John Ajvide Lindqvist (the book’s title comes from Mozzer solo tune ‘Let the Right One Slip In’) and directed by comedian and Swedish TV big cheese Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In has pedigree to spare. Sparse, slow and occasionally bewitching, Let the Right One In emerges from a tradition of the sort of slow-build, low-budget horror (held together by vampire lore balderdash) that’s best exemplified by George A Romero’s seminal 1977 bloodletter Martin. Like Romero, Alfredson treats the idea of longing and unfulfilled desire between the corrupted and the pure with a seriousness and resolve that gives this warped tale of childhood friendship a touching dimension.
By formalising the film’s look by keeping the camera fixed and allowing his clearly gifted crew to do what they do best (feted Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema’s captures electric light better than anyone since Vilmos Zsigmund, and Per Sundstrom’s soundscape work is a marvel), Alfredson concentrates on performance (the two young leads are remarkable) and pace to create a work of nuance, sophistication and calmness – the blood-soaked poetry of which is not easy to forget.
Alfredson’s excellent film arrives in Scotland riding the crest of a wave of film festival euphoria and zeitgeist-style acclaim; whether it plays so well with a regular audience more attuned to the ‘shock and show’ techniques of modern horror will be interesting to see. If subtitles, subtlety and blood-sweet violence don’t appeal, there’s no need to worry – an American remake is already in production (and they can always be trusted to suck the life out of anything).
GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 10 Apr.