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John Ajvide Lindqvist

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Title: Låt den rätte komma in
English title:
Let the Right One In
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Year: 2008

Swedish vampire films aren’t very common, and Swedish vampire films that earn some sort of recognition abroad are unheard of. At least until Låt den rätte komma in (the translated title is Let the Right One In), released in 2008. Not being a big fan of vampires in the first place (although I have tried to like them), I didn’t expect very much from a Swedish movie in that genre, particularly because I’m not very impressed by Swedish cinema either. Imagine my surprise when I actually liked Let the Right One In.

The story takes place roughly thirty years ago in a suburb to Stockholm and focuses on twelve-year-old Oskar and a strange girl who moves in with what seems to be an even stranger man. It soon becomes clear that the girl is no ordinary girl and Oskar has to re-evaluate his yet unexplored relationship to her. In addition to this, it’s also an ordinary vampire movie with all that entails, but since that’s pretty boring, I won’t dwell on details.

I’ll start with the bad bits this time. First, I still don’t quite fancy vampires, and even though the director and/or author has made a good job of focusing on other, more unconventional aspects of the vampire genre, it’s still about vampires and it’s still rather conventional. Furthermore, there is one very serious flaw with this movie which goes somewhat beyond personal preferences: It’s extremely predictable. Many of the scenes feel completely unnecessary, because their ending is obvious almost from the start (these scenes are meant to be thrilling, which is why they’re mostly pointless; advancing story or character could be done in much better ways). On a more general level, the story is ordinary, although the ending is exceptionally bad.

Okay, so how is it possible to give such a film three and a half snails, which, after all, means I liked it? Well, mostly because of the actors and the director. The two main characters are both children and they play their roles very convincingly. The director also uses quite a number of interesting techniques to add to the experience and I have a feeling of quality most of the time, even though the movie didn’t cost very much to produce. Also, a couple of plot devices, themes or other components are interesting in themselves, but I’m not sure if those should be attributed to the author or the director. Still, the end result isn’t too bad.

On the whole, this film surprised me a lot in that it wasn’t a flop. In advance, I would have guessed around one or two snails, but it actually turned out to be worthwhile. If you aren’t as sceptical as I am of this kind of movie, I think you should check it out (perhaps it would be worth it even if you are). It’s hard to believe, but I haven’t seen a single Swedish film since I started reviewing regularly here in 2004, but I’m happy to announce that the first time was at least a moderate success!

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