“Twilight” is in lots of theaters right now. According to the reviews it’s the film version of the first of a series of Romance novels with a vampire theme, aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls. Apparently some of the vampires are reformed and get by on animal blood. And they make really cute and soulful boyfriends. It’s sold a lot of tickets.
The Swedish film, “Let the Right One In”, which is in exactly one theater in San Francisco, isn’t like that. It is the story of a romance between the blond, angelic looking Oskar and the dark haired, pale Eli. He’s twelve and so is she, but as she says, she’s been twelve for a long time. She also mentions eventually that she’s not really a girl. In this film a vampire drinks human blood and getting the blood out of the human can be a messy business.
It takes place in a working class suburb of Stockholm. Oskar is ping-ponged between his divorced parents’ places and is bullied at school by a particularly odious classmate and his two henchmen. He’s full of rage and frustration but doesn’t act on it. He’s lonely. Eli moves into the apartment next to Oskar’s at night. She lives with a middle aged man who seems to be her guardian. Oskar meets Eli at night by a snow covered jungle gym. She doesn’t feel the cold.
I felt the cold. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film because I liked Oskar and Eli and didn’t know what was going to happen to them in this seeming unconventional vampire film. And then I realized that the filmmakers were going to honor the conventions of the classic vampire story in a brilliant way.
I don’t want to give anything else away but this is a very good film, creepy and darkly funny, and I urge my stalwart readers who haven’t seen it, to see it. And for those Bram Stoker fans among you I’ll give a little more away by saying that the film could have been subtitled “The New Renfield”.