I love a good horror movie, and I’ve always been partial to vampires in both literature and film.  Dracula.  Lestat. The Hunger. The Lost Boys. The old Hammer films. Makes a heart happy to beat. This newfangled stuff of the Twilight and True Blood ilk is fun, but I’ll always adore the classics (neoclassic as some may be). And the more off-beat, the better … like Near Dark, The Addiction., and Shadow of the Vampire.

There’s a new contender on the (longish) list of my favorite vampire flicks. The tenderly tragic and provocatively sweet Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) is a 2008 Swedish film based on the 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It follows the desperate little life of 12-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) as he’s all but ignored by his single mom, rarely sees his dad (who’s found new amusements), and is mercilessly bullied at school. He dreams of bloody revenge, practicing knife-play and lifting weights to try building up his fragile physique.

Then a dark-haired girl of apparently his own age moves into his apartment building, with someone we all assume is her father, and Oskar’s life changes forever. Oskar and Eli (Lina Leandersson) become friends, and she slowly becomes his protector, grooming him to eventually become hers.

The two principal child actors (both 11 at the time the film was made) are superbly unselfconscious and refreshingly real, yet undeniably creepy when they need to be. The story moves at a cathartic pace, picking up speed as the worlds of Oskar and Eli collide and irrevocably fuse.  What special effects there are blend seamlessly into the storytelling. In the end, we’re left with a thought-provoking peek at the bittersweet torment of immortality, akin to the laments of Louis is Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles or the anguished survival of Miriam in The Hunger.

Vampire movie fans and bizarre love story enthusiasts alike should check out this little gem.

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Bonus: There’s a great rundown of 70 + vampire flicks at Snarkerati.

Another bonus: Read Gina McIntyre’s article about the remake.

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