You couldn’t ordinarily term a movie beautiful where just two of the scenes contain an infirm body swathed in bandages being thrown from a hospital room window or a decapitated head sinking to the bottom of a swimming pool.
But director Alfredson’s adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s hit book has a softness and tenderness that makes you forget you’re watching a horror movie with considerable violence and bloodletting.
In our age where shaky, hand held cameras are still very much in vogue to elicit a sense of being there, everything about Let the Right One In is the complete opposite. Alfredson moves his camera like a slow caress across skin and his characters talk softly and low. The only time the film ever feels kinetic is in the occasional bursts of violence, much of the worst off screen or far out of focus but made all the more shokcing by their suddenness.
If you haven’t heard, it’s about vampires, but the 90210 stylings of Twilight this ain’t. The cherubic Oskar, a preteen in the Stockholm suburbs, is being bullied by kids at school when an enigmatic young girl moves into the apartment next door, one who never feels the cold, smells funny and tells him they can never be friends.
The grown man who lives with her is a kind of handler, conducting nightly expeditions to abduct, murder and bleed dry various random victims for her food. When she loses him because of a careless detail that sees a murder go wrong, her only choice is to try and subsist by feeding on the locals in a very exposed fashion or entrust Oskar with her secret. Although she knows they can never exist in the same world despite their growing feelings, she opts for the latter, and without the vampire premise this could be a touching treatise on young love like Lukas Moodysson’s Show Me Love.
It’s hard to imagine how a film can be so violent and yet tender, so tense and yet peaceful, so gorgeous and yet sinister, but Let the Right One In makes it look easy.
It might feel a little slow, but stick with it, you won’t realise until the end how much under your skin it’s worked its bloody, icy little fingers.