Let The Right One In, immediately. November 17, 2008

What do you say?

What do you say walking out of a darkened theater after having seen the greatest piece of genre film in the last 20 years? What do you say to directing and cinematography so adept, you can see many fledgling filmmakers throwing in the towel, demoralized, assuming they can never attempt to be as good? 

What do you say about a film that is simultaneously among the most heartbreaking and terrifying you have ever seen?

Nothing, apparently. I was struck dumb.

The success of of Let The Right One In will hinge on the breathless hyperbole of those who have seen it, and will be endlessly called “that Scandinavian vampire flick” to anyone who will listen. Based on the bestselling (in Sweden) novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the Tomas Alfredson directed film has been a festival darling in its short run, garnering such honors as the Founders Award for Best Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival. Such hype surrounded its release, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves had signed on to do another adaptation of the novel before the film even hit theaters.

Sweden forms the Hobbesian backdrop for this endlessly inventive horror flick, with somewhat disturbed Oskar meeting his next door neighbor Eli. With a stunning eye for contrast and a striking color palette, the movie takes a note from Hard Candy and has you sympathizing with the monster it centers on, and lets you feel the conflict of your sympathies.

The film explores violently frightening aspects of the fictional horror mainstay in a far more satisfying way than was explored by Joss Whedon or Bram Stoker. Let The Right One In just may be the new benchmark of horror, and its arguable it has made a claim to a reputation in the annals of film as a whole.

In school, we were never allowed to do book reports on horror novels. Stephen King, Anne Rice and H.P. Lovecraft were taboo, the Catholic school board none to keen on their content. I have a feeling if they were to experience the beauty Let The Right One In imbues utter horror, they might redouble their efforts to keep it away from us.