Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl Robert Lindgren, Anders Peedu, Paul Olofsson, Cayetano Ruiz, Patrik Rydmark, Johan Sömnes, Mikael Erhardsson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
MPAA Rating: R for some bloody violence including disturbing images, brief nudity and language
Language: Swedish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 114
Date: 26/01/2008

Let the Right One In (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Vampire Girl

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A vampire film from Sweden may seem like an unlikely item, but here it is, and it's a good one.

For Let the Right One In, director Tomas Alfredson and screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist (who adapted his 2004 novel) employ most of the usual vampire "rules," as well as some overly familiar plot arcs, but they present them in a unique, surprisingly beautiful manner.

A strange, 12 year-old boy, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant, with an odd-shaped helmet of blond hair), struggles through his lonely existence at school, friendless and picked on by bullies.

One night in front of his stone apartment building -- on an industrial set of snowed-over monkey bars, he meets the spooky, lovely Eli (Lina Leandersson), also 12.

She warns him that they can't be friends, but they become close anyway. He soon begins to notice unusual things about her and eventually realizes that she's a vampire.

None of this is particularly shocking, but Alfredson keeps a cool head throughout, taking his time on his quiet setups and using dialogue only sparingly.

Refreshingly, the filmmakers do not feel the need to constantly advance the plot; one of the sweetest scenes has Oskar and his mother wandering around their apartment together while brushing their teeth!

Alfredson brilliantly employs the Swedish snow and chilly, gray weather, and the climactic showdown, set in a swimming pool, is a stunner. But what finally emerges is a tender, moving relationship between two confused, lost young people.

As a bonus, to the best of my knowledge, this is also the first movie to depict exactly what happens when a vampire enters a dwelling without having been invited.

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