How to best describe Let The Right One In? It is so many things – a horror film that turns your blood cold like an Arctic breeze, an empathetic examination of adolescent agony and a heart-warming love story. It will no doubt be lazily categorized as a vampire movie, but that definition hopelessly fails to capture the sense of imagination that allows this film to transcend the limitations of the horror genre and instead reach the dizzying heights of borderline masterpiece.
Similarly, a brief synopsis of its story fails to do justice to its originality. A young bullied boy with revenge fantasies befriends a mysterious waif of a girl whose arrival in his housing block coincides with a spate of gruesome murders. In each other these two lonely figures find that which they lack within themselves. For him, that is the courage and conviction to be a stronger individual, while for her it is a genuine humanity denied by her supernatural status. The resulting opportunities for both tender emotion and sinister terror are handled deftly, the story shifting seamlessly between the two extremes in a way that is natural and organic rather than an obtuse, iconoclastic exercise in genre bending.
The two child leads, perfectly cast, give performances so convincing that the stories’ fantastical elements seem as genuine as the themes grounded in reality. Providing the cherry on top is the cinematography, with its aesthetic so devoid of warmth that you can imagine the screen is cold to the touch. Director Tomas Alfredson conducts all these elements so that they remain in perfect harmony, enhancing the effects of each other and building towards a fantastic finale. Definitely a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m done gushing. Put it on your must see list, you won’t be disappointed. Or you will because you have no soul.