Thursday, November 13, 2008

A vampire in suburban Stockholm

"Let the Right One In" might be the most original vampire movie to hit the screen in some time. Steeped in loneliness and punched up by gruesome splashes of violence, this Swedish import becomes even creepier if you give some thought to its ending. Set in 1982, the movie focuses on 12-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a boy who has no friends and minimal family life. Oskar lives with his divorced mom, sometimes visits his dad in the country and finds himself picked on by other boys at school. When Eli (Lina Leandersson) and the man who appears to be her father (Per Ragnar) move into the neighborhood, Oskar seems on the verge of making what might be his first real friend. Nothing about Eli is as expected, though. She's a vampire, and the man who seems to be her dad sometimes ventures out to freshen her blood supply. Obviously, this requires knocking off a few of the townsfolk. Set in the dead of winter, the movie lowers your temperature right up until the point at which young Oskar makes the biggest commitment of his life. Are Eli and Oskar made for each other? If so, what might that mean? You'll be thinking about such macabre things on the way out of the theater, thanks to director Tomas Alfredson, who gives his movie the feeling of a near-death experience (and I mean that in the best possible way). You'll still be trying to digest this cold slab of a movie long after the final credits roll.

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