Have you ever watched a weird twist where romance meet vampire with the moving exploration of adolescence….Quite a nebulous topic, an odd ball and the concept of a vampire moving in next door. …Cheers to the director Tomas Alfredson, with its very unconventional approach of making a romantic horror film
Let the Right One In-is a 2008 Swedish film based on the novel of the same tittle by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also happen to write the screenplay for this film. This movie is one of the most echoing cult movies. The film tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who develops a friendship with a vampire child in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s. Alfredson, unconcerned with the horror and vampire conventions, decided to tone down many elements of the novel and focus primarily on the relationship between the two main characters. Selecting the lead actors involved a year-long process with open castings held all over Sweden. In the end, then 11-year-olds Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson were chosen for the leading roles. They were subsequently commended by both Alfredson and film reviewers for their performances.
The film received widespread international critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the “Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature” at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation’s 2008 Méliès d’Or (Golden Méliès) for the “Best European Fantastic Feature Film”, as well as four Guldbagge Awards from the Swedish Film Institute and the Saturn Award for Best International Film.
Talking about the story in the film- 12-year-old boy played by Kare Hedebrant as Oskar, he is the most bullied kid, typical morose, where we can identify in every middle school. He lives alone with is mother. Oskar is out in the courtyard of his apartment complex, threatening to stab his tormenters when Eli (Lina Leandersson) comes to introduce herself. There’s something otherworldly about her from the start, both in her strange way of speaking and the fact that she’s wearing a T-shirt in the middle of the Swedish winter. Eli, of course, is a vampire, living with a man who may or may not be her father, a non-vampire who goes out at night and murders random strangers in order to feed Eli. But sometimes she gets desperate, and when bodies start being found around town with bite marks on their necks, the news makes headlines.
Oskar figures out that Eli is a vampire, he’s not dismayed much, he gets charmed by Eli, who teach him to stick up for himself against the school bullies. But as more bodies show up and Eli accidentally turns another woman into a vampire, Eli may have to leave town, and Oskar faces the idea of life without her and feel she is an inspirer and a good little friend that he can bank on. Just then the movie in its usual pace start unfolding its story, and the slow pace will be maddening for some viewers. Some parts of the story, like Oskar’s relationship with his distant father and the group of friends whose friend is one of Eli’s first victims, are left dangling after the movie’s fresh, startling ending. But the central story, of the innocent romance between Oskar and Eli and what Oskar learns in his tide of affection is impeccable and touching.
Writer Lindqvist and director Tomas Alfredson downplay some of the darkest elements in the original novel. There, Eli’s father, Hakan (Per Ragnar), was a pedophile; here, though we may read all kinds of diabolism from his dry, hounded face, he’s primarily the poor gopher whose job it is to find fresh plasma for her to gulp down.
It’s a thankless task: he goes out of his way to identify and ensnare victims, hang them upside down, cut them so that their blood drips via a funnel into a plastic container “only for a silly pooch to come along and spoil his work. All throughout the film, its mordant, understated comedy is inextricable from the grotesque, shocking effects it is so good at achieving.
Those shocks, when they come, are utterly bizarre and will never let me see cats in the same light again. And though Alfredson is intelligent enough to know that it’s many of these literally off-the-wall moments that audiences will not only tell all their friends about but want to see again, but what’s so wonderful about this film is the grace and sensitivity with which it emphasizes the love story at its centre.
Of course, as will be known to all those music fans who have fallen in love recently with the endless stream of brilliant pop coming out of Stockholm and Gothenburg from the likes of Boat Club, Air France and Taken By Trees, Swedish people are unable and unwilling to draw a line between beauty and melancholy. Let The Right One In will make you swoon with sadness and sigh with happiness.
Even to call it a vampire movie – and it’s certainly got more in common with Murnau’s and Herzog’s versions of Nosferatu (1922 and 1979) than it does Blade: Trinity (2004) – risks underselling what a gorgeous, romantic film it is. Some of Oskar and Eli’s exchanges will break your heart: “Will you be my girlfriend?” “Oskar, I’m not a girl,” she replies. On another occasion, Oskar asks her: “Are you old?” She answers: “I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time.”
What distinguishes it from Twilight, and might make it more attractive to adults than adolescents (though it isolates the loneliness, yearning and compassion of adolescence better than any film I’ve seen for a very long time), is that it doesn’t remotely look or feel like gloopy, MTV-ified schmaltz. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema composes every shot with rare elegance and makes telling use of crops as well as off-kilter close-ups.
The sound design, too, is superlative. The dribble of blood down plastic funnels, Oskar breathing, the Morse code taps he makes on a wall that divides his bedroom from Eli’s, snow falling on winter trees: all are captured and retransmitted with delicate and detonating precision. There are other sounds, rare and delightful especially in modern cinema, I promise you’ll be able to hear: your heart beating, your heart breaking. Like many memorable films, Let the Right One In’ seems to have appeared from nowhere. Alfredson is not a newcomer, but nor is he especially well known. He won’t be obscure for much longer. A Hollywood remake of this is already under way; it will of course be terrible. This, by contrast, is worth skating over thin ice to see and fall in love with.
John Nordling, a producer at the production company EFTI, contacted Ajvide Lindqvist’s publisher Ordfront to acquire the rights for a film adaption of Lindqvist’s novel in 2004. During the same time Alfredson was introduced to the same novel by his friend and was affected by the depiction of bullying where he connected similar event in his childhood days and got to meet Lindqvist for the movie right and Lindqvist was so impressed with Alfredson’ s earlier work and introduced him with John Nordling.
The casting again took one year from then. Kåre Hedebrant, selected to audition for the role as Oskar after an initial screening at his school, eventually landed the role. Lina Leandersson responded to an online advertisement seeking a 12-year old boy or girl “good at running”. After three more auditions, she was selected to play Eli. Alfredson has described the casting process as the most difficult part of making the film. He had particular concerns about the interaction between the two leads and the fact that those who had read the book would have a preconceived notion of how the characters were supposed to look. He wanted the actors to look innocent, and be able to interact in front of the camera. They were supposed to be mirror images of each other. She is everything he isn’t. Dark, strong, brave, and a girl. Alfredson frequently lauded Hedebrant and Leandersson for being extremely intelligent and incredibly wise and unprecedentedly fantastic as a romantic pair….
Most of the filming used a single, fixed, Arri 535B camera, with almost no handheld usage, and few cuts. Tracking shots relied on a track-mounted dolly, rather than Steadicam, to create calm, predictable camera movement. The crew paid special attention to lighting. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and director Alfredson invented a technique they called “spray light”. In an interview, van Hoytema describes it as follows: “If you could capture dull electrical light in a can and spray it like hairspray across Eli’s apartment, it would have the same result as what we created”. For the emotional scenes between Oskar and Eli, van Hoytema consistently diffused the lighting. Besides, 50 shots with computer-generated imagery in the film. Alfredson wanted to make them very subtle and almost unnoticeable. The sequence where multiple cats attack Virginia, one of the most complicated scenes to film, required several weeks of drafting and planning. The crew used a combination of real cats, stuffed cats and computer-generated imagery
This movie was well received in Sweden, and was a commercial success. The film was ranked among “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema” in Empire online review. In their rationale, the authors noted that, “in these days where every second movie seems to feature vampires, it takes a very special twist on the legend to surprise us – but this one knocked us out and then bit us in the jugular”, and found that the strange central friendship between the two lead characters was what made the film so startling, immense and so magnetic. So much so what impresses most, though, is how searchingly and poetically the piece uses vampire myth as a metaphor in the living serenity…….
- Directed by Tomas Alfredson
- Produced by Carl Molinder & John Nordling
- Screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist
- Based on the Novel ‘Let the Right One In’ by John Ajvide Lindqvist
- Casting: Kåre Hedebrant; Lina Leandersson & Per Ragnar
- Music by Johan Söderqvist
- Cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema
- Editing by Tomas Alfredson & Daniel Jonsäter
- Distributed by Sandrew Metronome
- Release dates: 26 January 2008 (Gothenburg Film Festival) & 24 October 2008 (Sweden)
- Run time of 114 minutes
- Country: Sweden
- Language: Swedish