Review: ‘Let the Right One In’ blends romance, horror

Movie lovers may be looking for a romance film this weekend but want something other than a Nicholas Sparks induced gush trip. Romance films are nice, but viewers often want more edge to their cinematic selections. In the immortal words of Monty Python, “and now for something completely different,” queue a 2008 film named “Let the Right One In,” based on the novel of the same name from 2004.

A fairly straightforward coming-of-age story, “Let the Right One In” is about Oskar, a boy living in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, who struggles with bullies and live with his single mother. As most of these stories go, his life changes when a semi-reclusive new girl, named Eli, and her father-like guardian, Håkan, move in next door. What he eventually finds over the course of the film is that Eli is a vampire. As their relationships grows, an alcoholic named Locke deals with the disappearance of his friend, and later seeks revenge following an attack on his girlfriend.

One of the things that makes “Let the Right One In” interesting to watch is how the violence and other horrific elements are both explicit and implied, which is helped by its limited use of blood and gore make up and how things are often handled with a relatively light touch, thus creating a sense of ambiguity that adds to the movie’s presentation.

However, this is definitely a violent and bloody tale, but it does not go over the top with its violence. Another aspect that makes “Let the Right One In” standout is the mildly refreshing way vampires are presented. Portrayed in a way that initially might be dull, the mundane presentation might actually make it scarier for some.

The vampire, as contrasted to many popular incarnations, is relatable to many. The Eli does not stand out in a crowd, unless you mistakenly offer to do a blood bond with her turning her from a seemingly normal 12-year-old to a vicious animal.

In general, the performances are good and the acting is understated enough to give this movie a grounded, down to earth portrayal. While the child actors perform surprisingly well, some adult actors perform better than others. Not that there are necessarily outright bad performances, but some stand out more than others, due to the fact that certain characters have –to put it lightly – bad things happened to them.

“Let the Right One In” is a decent choice for an alternative Valentine’s Day showing, especially for those more into dark tales and horror films. The only thing to keep in mind is that it is a Swedish film and is on Netflix currently for those who might be interested.

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