posted 00/00/2009

Directed by:
Tomas Alfredson

Kåre Hedebrant ... Oskar
Lina Leandersson ... Eli
Per Ragnar ... Håkan
Henrik Dahl ... Erik

Country: Sweden
Runtime: 115 min
Original title: Låt den rätte komma in

I’m tired of vampire movies. Apart from Dracula, they always seem to be about some bullshit homo guy, or a bunch of goth kids pretending to be love-sick and tortured demons. I like werewolves better, but vampire cinema outweighs their hairy cousin by five to one, I’d say. I wasn’t expecting much with this Swedish entry in the vampire genre, but by the end I was blown away by the masterful way the vampire mythos was handled.

Oskar (played rather well by Kare Hedebrant) is a lonely little boy trying to make his way in life. His parents are divorced and he lives with his busy mom in the snow-covered city of Blackeberg. He does his best to deal with the bullies that assault him almost every day and escapes as often as possible into his own, desolate world. Into this world comes Eli (played effectively creepy by Lina Leandersson), the strange girl, who appears to be about his age, that has moved into his apartment block with her father. She appears to him one night and slowly but surely they build a friendship that leads to love.

The problem here, if you haven’t guessed it yet, is that Eli is over a hundred years old and a vampire. Her father is really just her caretaker, the one who goes out in the dark of night to kill innocent stragglers and milks them for blood so Eli won’t have to go out and feed and possibly be caught and killed. However, during a bloodletting, her caretaker is found out, and he is unable to get blood. Hungry as hell, Eli escapes and is spotted viciously killing a man. The caretaker decides to get rid of himself to save Eli from being implicated. This leaves Eli alone with only Oskar for company and they become the only other thing in each other’s lives.

Soon, the husband of a murdered woman is on Eli’s trail and Oskar must say goodbye, because she must flee into the night like she has been doing for centuries. But can they live apart? When the bullies come for revenge against Oskar, who made them look like a bunch of punks in an earlier scene, and the husband closes in, it seems only Eli’s return can grant them both a chance to see the light of day again. The film does have its quiet (or slow) moments, but they aren’t painful, and the film certainly draws blood freely when it knows it has to.

Cramming in tortured love, violent, blood-soaked murders, and vampire hunter story points, this quiet little film does all a vampire film is expected to do, but adds a different dimension that most of them don’t have. Director Tomas Alfredson and writer John Ajvide Lindqvist (adapting from his novel) make all these genre elements feel real. That above everything else makes this a special horror film. Not only do you care about Oskar and Eli and their outcome, but you believe every sweet, disgusting, wonderful moment of their adventure.

- Jose Prendes


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