Review in a Hurry: A horror story that drives a stake at your heart—but not like you'd think. Two lost souls (OK, one with a soul, one not so much) become friends and keep each other's secrets while the rest of the world abhors them. The body count piles up, but it's the way a boy named Oskar is treated that may get your blood boiling.
The Bigger Picture: "Spine-tingling suspense" and "heartwarming" are terms not often ascribed to the same film, but the Swedish horror flick Let the Right One In is pretty far from normal.
Set in the '80s, the story concerns a timid, anxious and friendless 12-year-old named Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) who lives with his mother in an eastern European slum. Bullied and bored, he forms an unlikely friendship with new neighbor Eli (Lina Leandersson), a like-minded kid who happens to be a vampire.
The bulk of the story takes place in the winter, and the isolation felt by all the characters is pretty chilling, as small-town paranoia has set in following the recent grisly murders of a few local residents. Apparently the killer likes to drain the victims' blood.
The premise might sound a tad like a tween version of Twilight, but tone is everything and director Tomas Alfredson aims for much higher than just teen angst. A more accurate description would be coming-of-age pic with a few nasty bits of gore peppered in.
Based on the best-selling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, it's almost like an antivampire flick. The film skirts around any sexual overtone and instead uses the classic role of bloodsucker as a metaphor for illegal immigrant. Eli is not so much feared by anyone as much as she's ignored, a feeling Oskar can certainly understand.
Productionwise, the point of view can seem a bit godlike at times, and that can make some of the scenes feel a little too intellectual and not emotional. If the late Krzysztof Kieslowski (Three Colors trilogy) had made a film about the daylight-deprived, this might have been it. But don't let all this high-minded talk keep you away, as this movie can really get under your skin.
The 180—a Second Opinion: True Blood this ain't. If you like your vamps oversexed and bat-crazy, pass on this.