DVD Review: Let The Right One In

Swedish vampire film based on the best-selling novel of the same name, a gritty love story set in early-1980s Stockholm, in the depths of winter. 12-year-old Oskar, somewhat of a loner, and the frequent object of bullies at school, befriends a vampiric new neighbour, Eli.

Oskar asks Eli if she wants to be his girlfriend, to which she replies “I’m not a girl.” (As in the novel, Eli’s gender is deliberately ambiguous, even though she appears female and is played by a girl.) As with all vampire films, bloodlust drives Eli to the exclusion of all else; although here the pace of that hunt is much less ferocious—long stretches focus on the landscape, and the budding romance between the two is a strong narrative presence.

Brilliant performances from the young actors, beautifully still, potent cinematography, a score that is alternately chilling and warmly romantic, and the film’s unusually dark mood set Let The Right One In apart from other vampire flicks.

Before the film was even released theatrically in the US, Matt Reeves, director of Cloverfield, was signed on to a mainstream remake. Let Me In (the film’s working title) will take place in Reagan-era Colorado, retaining the wintry ’80s mood of the original. The characters’ names have been changed to Owen and Abby—thus making the vampire explicitly female— and according to reports the new film will be “[made] more accessible… to a wider audience”. The film is slated for release late next year; no roles have yet been cast.

Unfortunately the Rialto Collection DVD presents the film in non-anamorphic 16:9, and with hard-coded (English) subtitles—though thankfully they are the original subtitles, not the dumbed-down translation for the US market. On the plus side, the image is crisp and detailed, and there’s an optional DTS audio track.

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