I don’t have time for a proper review, but I wanted to write a thing or two about the great Swedish horror film Let the Right One In, which Ashley and I saw on DVD yesterday. It got some attention late last year in the wake of the film version of Twilight, since its premise is superficially similar. I never saw Twilight; however, I can only assume Let the Right One In is about a hundred times better.
There seem to be two parallel trends running through horror films made these last ten years or so. One is a tendency toward bloodier, more horrific, and more gratuitous gore than ever before — think the Saw franchise, or the oeuvre of Eli Roth. The other is an inclination to naturalism — and here I’m thinking of 28 Days Later and Let the Right One In, films that work not just as scary movies, but succeed on higher levels. They’re artful horror films, the kind James Whale used to make.
Let the Right One In was directed by Tomas Alfredson, who does something very important for his audience. He allows us to believe our eyes. This is a vampire movie, and extraordinary things do happen from time to time, but Alfredson rarely actually lets us see them happening. He hints at them, he suggests what is going on around the corner, or just off-screen, or above the surface of a swimming pool. The technique not only makes the events of the film seem almost plausible (and therefore a hell of a lot scarier than they would have been otherwise), but it makes the few times we are allowed to witness a supernatural occurrence full-on that much more startling. There’s a scene of a character who has been infected by the vampire bursting into flames in the sunlight that could have seemed old-hat in a more conventional horror film — I mean, we’ve all seen much worse, haven’t we? In Alfredson’s hands, it feels primal and astonishing.
This is a great film, the best horror film I’ve seen since I saw 28 Days Later in 2002, and if you haven’t seen it yet you really ought to. There is an American remake, underwhelmingly retitled Let Me In, in production for release next year, but don’t wait for that. See this one, the original, now.