Let the Right One In (2008)
By: Rip on October 22, 2011  | 
Madman | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | Swedish DTS-HD 5.1 | 114 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Screenplay: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Country: Sweden
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What more can one say that hasn't already been said about Let The Right One In, the highly acclaimed and multi award winning Swedish horror drama from 2008? Already, the Americans have remade it (and rather well for a change) with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves at the helm and the original film has gone on to become regarded as, for many at least, one of the great vampire movies. The film has been tagged, amongst other things, as "tender and terrifying" and this is a rather accurate description, at least as far as the way it makes the audience feel. It's also more than just another vampire film. In fact, for that matter, one could even question as to whether it is indeed a horror film at all.

Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a lonely 12 year old boy whose parents have separated and neither wants him. His pale complexion, slight build and white blonde hair make him an outsider at school, and a target for cruel taunts and merciless bullying. When at home, Oskar occupies himself by collecting newspaper clippings of murders in a scrapbook and practices stabbing imaginary tormentors. But this passive, put upon young fellow is far from a psychopath in the making.

One day, out in the snowy Swedish night, he strikes up a friendship with the peculiar raven-haired girl who has just moved in next door, Eli (Lina Leandersson). She is also 12 years of age, or as she says herself, "Twelve, more or less". Like Oskar, she is also an outsider. From the outset, Eli warns Oskar that they can never really be friends, but their shared loneliness brings them together regardless. The real reason for Eli's warning is that she is, in fact, not a girl at all. She is a vampire. And she's been twelve for a very long time. Thus begins one of cinema's most memorable relationships, as Eli becomes Oskar's best friend and saviour. Now, there is so much more to this tale, that I am somewhat loathe to continue for fear of spoiling the many surprises to be found in this unusual and multi-layered horror film.

Director Tomas Alfredson's superb adaptation of the novel by author John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay) is, above all, a coming-of-age story. It's a touching tale of friendship and love that transcends all boundaries. But, it is also a study of outsiders, a serial killer flick, a black comedy and a re-examination of the vampire myth. That the film manages to switch between these genres so effectively without unbalancing the whole is testimony to both the excellent direction from Tomas Alfredson and the terrific central performances from the film's young leads. In fact, it's these performances that hold the film together. As Eli, Lina Leandersson plays the tortured soul driven by bloodlust with heartbreaking conviction. Vulnerable and sad, she also becomes pretty damn scary when she's hungry, especially evident in a scene involving an unsavoury middle-aged man named Hakan (Per Ragnar) with whom Eli has an odd and possibly questionable relationship with. Kare Hedebrant is very well cast as the remote Oskar, but his is the role of observer and is so buttoned down that it's difficult to read a lot from him. But it's a carefully modulated performance nonetheless and is probably what director Alfredson was going for. Special mention must also go to the superb sound design and exquisite cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema, as well as the absolutely beautiful, haunting score by composer Johan Soderqvist.
Framed beautifully at 2:35, Madman's Blu-ray looks great and really captures the muted, icy palette of the film's Swedish locations. Detail is strong and blacks are deep, though depth is lacking a little in some scenes. Subtitles are featured in a yellow font with black borders and Madman have used the original theatrical translation. The 'dumbed-down' translation that caused so much controversy in the USA is, thankfully, nowhere to be found.
The overall soundtrack to this low budget film is very restrained and the lossless Swedish DTS-HD audio track is excellent, bringing out all the quiet subtleties, then swelling up loud in all the right moments, especially when the superb score kicks in. Dialogue is also crisp and clear.
Extra Features
Disappointingly, we don't get the terrific audio commentary by director Tomas Alfredson and author/screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist that comes with the UK release or the, albeit brief, 'making-of' from the US version. Four deleted scenes and the film's trailer is all we get, unfortunately.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Let The Right One In is an incredibly captivating, unique horror film and was one of 2008's best. Unlike many movies, it really does live up to the hype and is anchored by two unforgettable performances from its young leads, the likes of which I've not seen in a long, long time. If you haven't gotten around to catching it yet, Madman's Blu-ray is a good way of doing so. This one comes highly recommended.

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