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An Exceptional Swedish Vampire Story: “Let The Right One In”

The Swedish film “Let The Right One In” was one of the most remarkable movie I’ve seen this year in Istanbul Film Festival . The movie was adapted from a novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist and both the book and the movie got the same title. This exceptional and interesting vampire movie is telling the story about a strange relationship between 12 years old boy and 12 years old girl who will stay for ever at the same age. The movie itself has a stunning visuality and minimalist expression style on the other hand.

Let The Right One In” is beyond the fantastic vampire horror movie which has fun elements from time to time; mainly focussing the concepts “adolescence, being a man, violence tendency, lack of love, communication problems in family, loneliness, and discovering romanticism and love .

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant)  is a 12 years old lonely, asocial, pale beauty boy living with his mother in Stockholm suburb. His parents are divorced and he misses his father ever. He has no friend at school. He frequently experiences verbal and/or physical violence by bunch of aggressive and spoiled students. Yet he can not resist back or complain about it. But he has a strange violence tendency inside. He has a scrapbook with full of newspaper articles about bloody, wild murders. Some nights he fights with his imaginary enemies in his room.

Oskar’s boring life during day time at schools and night time at his room or at the cold, snowy white back yard changes completely right after he meets with –more or less- 12 years old mysterious Eli (Lina Leandersson)l who has just moved to his apartment with a man. She is a night walker, barefoot in the cold winter time. These two lost souls somehow create their own language like Mors Alphabet. Their encounter of each other happens in perfect timing. Though there’s a doubt how long this would last…

The guy she lives with Håkan (Per Ragnar) (might be her guardian or her slave or a pedophile but definitely not her father as she mentions in the movie) kills people reluctantly and collect their blood with his special method for feeding Eli. One of his murder attempts he fails and he is being captured. He burns his face with acid (may be for punishing himself or being not recognized by Eli) Eli finds him at the hospital. Attacks and kills him in cold blood.

Having no hesitation to kill innocent people for her survival, Eli has vampire talents such as climbing the walls. She teaches naive and intelligent Oscar to protect himself, attack to enemies, awaken his violence which sleeps inside of him and at the end of movie she becomes a “bold and strong princess” who saves his life with inversely heroic mission.

Eli lives in dirty and untidy apartment and with her less pale skin (compare to Oskar’s), shabby and tasteless outfit very far away from the aristocrat, rich, elegant look which we often see in lots of vampire movies. On the other hand, she has money. She even offers to give money to Oskar and shows him an enigmatic gold object which is very valuable in her opinion.

Award winner cinematograph Hoyte van Hoytema presents us horror and cold atmosphere of the film locations with stable and beautiful frames as painting. And sometimes he is focusing his camera on the different prettiness of two children with a nice contrast which Eli’s innocent yet scary and dark beauty and Oskars too naive and fragile blond beauty for a boy.

Especially the pool scene at the final has an impressive and astonishing visuality with its wonderful underwater shoots has hidden violence and atrocity feeling.

Ostensible “Happy End” comes, Oskar leaves home and has a train journey with Eli who is in the box for avoiding from sunshine. But it would be an illusion considering this as a “happy end”. Because it’s fake. Oskar probably would become the “next father” of Eli and same final would wait for him in the future. Perhaps “Let The Right One In” is just the romantic and mysterious story made up by a lonely, unhappy boy who has adolescence problems for avoiding hurting realities. Who knows?

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