“Let the Right One In”

May 21, 2009

I haven’t posted much about movies, but this little Norwegian film, an original and provocative take on the vampire genre, is one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. Let the Right One In is now available for rental from Netflix.

The beauty of this film is that it is a horror flick by genre, and very competently fulfills that brief, without disappointing the knowledgeable viewer, as it invokes well recognized tropes of two sub-forms, primarily the vampire flick but also the contemporary serial killer movie. But then it forces the viewer into completely new points of view, without violating what we know about the pre-existing templates. It mutates and transforms what we know, but in the end, it is adding to that, without violating what we know. This is a tough balancing act that requires great originality, creativity, and a rare but critically important element of good art: taste.

And then, with all that, it is in fact a wondrously tender love story that in many ways really amounts to a “coming of age” story, albeit that put that way, the notion of “age” is turned on its head as well.

It reminds me, in some of these lights, of Secretary (co-exec produced by my friend PJ Posner), which is in fact a rather conventional love story, about misfits finding each other in a large and lonely world (see also: Rushmore, which is a buddy story on that theme rather than a romance, and also produced a fabulous soundtrack album), except that Secretary opens an entire new window to the form by adding the S&M relationship. And like Let the Right One In, it makes those changes and additions with great integrity and authenticity – and perhaps most importantly, with taste and restraint.

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