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Make sure you let the right vampire movie in

Posted at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2008 by Euan Kerr

I haven't had any desire to go see "Twilight" even though we have been getting reports of massive pre-sales all week for the much anticipated undead/mortal romance based on the Stephenie Meyer novels.

I was very happy however to take in the Swedish take on vampirism "Let the Right One In" from director Tomas Alfredson based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay.

In the film we meet 12 year old Oskar (Kare Hedebrandt), who is suffering at the hands of a bunch of cherubic looking bullies led by the increasingly violent Conny, who takes Oskar's refusal to fight back as an invitation to impose greater and greater humiliations.

When Oskar meets Eli (Lina Leandersson) a girl about his own age who has moved in next door he is desperate for a friend. The fact that she wanders around in the snow without a coat, and looks hugely underfed only bothers him briefly so obsessed is he with the bullies, and the way people have been mysteriously disappearing. It turns out that Eli knows a fair bit about the disappearances, but she also gives him advice on how to deal with his problems.

Director Alfredson breaks away from many conventions of the horror movie, and keeps the film remarkably low key. Oskar is painfully naive about girls, and life in general, but he does know he has a friend he wants to keep in Eli. Alfredson has the audience consider who are the evil ones here? He also makes Eli and her adult assistant Haken far from the infallible superhuman vampires we have seen so often in the movies in recent years.

There is violence, and while it is bloody at times, it is also confusing and hard to see, just as a real attack of any kind can be. This all combines to make the inevitable confrontation at the end of the film both surprising and thought provoking. It's a great addition to the genre.

Now of course there is a Hollywood rework. Let's hope they retain the magic.

November 2008
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