Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bonus DVD review: "Let the Right One In"

This Swedish vampire film came out a little bit before "Twilight," and received glowing reviews in many circles. I finally caught up with it, and although I enjoyed seeing it I didn't think it was any great shakes.

In fact, what struck me about it is that its problems mirror those of "Twilight." Both deal with a troubled youngster who encounters a vampire their own age (or apparently so), and becomes emotionally attached to it. OK, they fall in love with the vampire.

In both cases, though, the vampire is the interesting character and the bedazzled human is kind of a drag. In "Twilight," Kristen Stewart's glum Bella doesn't really have much to do, other than sit around and mope and wait for Edward to show up and do something cool.

It's much the same with Oskar, a 12-year-old loner who is the target of some bullies. It's only after he meets Eli, the new girl who moved in next door but never goes to school, that he becomes remotely interesting -- and then only in relation to her.

Eli walks around barefoot in the snow and often wears tattered clothing and forgets to bathe. Despite this, she and Oskar become friends, and then the boy wants something more. There's a disturbing nature to their relationship; although it doesn't become overtly sexual, Oskar wants a girlfriend because of the improvement in status in would buy him. Just because she drinks blood and smells bad doesn't seem to bother him.

Eli arrives with a man who takes care of her, finding victims to kill and drain their blood for her to sustain herself. He's getting old, though, and has a couple of close calls where he's nearly caught and fails to bring back the food. So Eli starts hunting among the crew of alcoholic stiffs occupying the dreary apartment complex where she and Oskar both live.

The extras are pretty sparse, the notable component being a making-of documentary that focuses more on the filmmaking process than the inspiration behind it.

"Let the Right One In" is a decent entree addition to the cinematic vampire menu, what with its international pedigree and focus on children. But like "Twilight," it struggles to find a way to make the unlikely romance between human and nosferatu a compelling one.

Movie: B-minus
Extras: C-minus


  1. Interesting comparison with Twilight. This one has been on my list; thanks for reviewing it. I saw a blog post elsewhere that the subtitles on the new DVD are not nearly as good as on the original screener though.

  2. I'd heard that too, Cori, but all I can say is that I didn't have any trouble at all reading the subtitles.

    There's a lot of snow in the movie -- all those white backgrounds tend to play hell with subtitles if they're not down right with a drop shadow.