“I'm just twelve, but I've been twelve for a long time.” This is how the mysterious new neighbor Eli responds to Oskar's question as to her age. But it takes them a while to get around to that question. First we meet the bookish Oskar, who is bullied at school and spends his evenings contemplating revenge with his hunting knife. Eli first finds Oskar practicing stabbing his knife into a tree. She initially tells him, “We can't be friends,” but both are lonely. Oskar seems to have a fraught relationship with his mom, and he rarely gets to visit his dad. Eli seems to have only Hakan, a grown man of uncertain motivations, who murders to bring home blood for her, because, as we gradually learn, Eli is a vampire.
This 2008 Swedish film is slow-paced and downright weird, but fascinating. Like Oskar, we are dying to find out what the deal is with Eli. Who and what is she? How does she live, and why is she shacked up in Oskar's housing project? “Let the Right One In” is touted as horror, and the older brother of one of the bullies IS a pretty scary figure, but the film isn't really scary in the classical sense. Director Tomas Alfredson just maintains a tone of suspense and dread throughout. Despite the movie's slow pace, I was perpetually on the edge of my seat.
There are aspects of the movie that I still don't understand, although one of them was cleared up by doing some reading on the internet. Rather than spoiling the mysteries, I will suggest you do the same after watching it, and I DO recommend the movie. It will be too slow for some, and of course it has subtitles, but it's a beautiful love story cloaked in horror.
3 stars out of 5