Let the Right One In 

Four stars (R)

This week I'm writing about an arty Swedish vampire flick. It's a very good little movie and, sure, NUVO is an alternative weekly, but come on - this week Gus Van Sant's highly-anticipated Milk opens, not to mention the mega-hyped remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and my feature review is about an arty Swedish vampire flick? I could take an aggressive stance here and say that I chose Let the Right One In as the feature review because of my fierce commitment to independent and foreign films, but the truth is that The Day the Earth Stood Still isn't being screened locally until after our deadline and Milk isn't being screened here in advance at all. So there you have it.

I realize that most people turned to this page expecting to read a piece about one of those two major films, saw a title they never heard of and quickly moved on to read News of the Weird, or perhaps that nifty comic strip profiling local music acts. Thankfully, however, some of you are adventuresome souls, always interested in something new or different, people who check out my essays every week regardless of the name of the film.

It's great to talk directly to you again, Idealized Reader. No matter how rough the newspaper business becomes, you're always there, offering silent support. Never forget that I appreciate you as much as I assure myself you appreciate me.

Now, about Let the Right One In. You'd think there was nothing left to do with the vampire genre, but Let the Right One In manages to be invigorating, involving, creepy and moving and occasionally even funny. Make no mistake - this is a little movie. It moves at a deliberate pace, which is a tactful way of saying that it's slow in spots. But the low-key, quiet presentation helps the film establish a realistic tone that makes the supernatural elements all the more shocking. If you get a little antsy during the first act, hang in there, your patience will be rewarded.

Tomas Alfredson's film, based on John Ajvide Lindqvist's bestseller set in 1982 Stockholm, is about 12-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrandt) and his new neighbor, a girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) who appears to be the same age, but she states that she's been 12 for a long time and that she's really not a girl. Huh. In their first meeting, she informs Oskar that she can't be his friend. Never mind that he didn't ask her. Not having friends is nothing new to Oskar. He's mostly overlooked at school, save for a group of bullies who love picking on the pale kid.

For the most part, the subtitled production is a beautifully shot tale of a burgeoning relationship between two alienated pre-teens. The story, the acting, the music, everything works, once you get in sync with the deliberate pacing. As for the vampire aspect of the film, all I'm going to say is that it's more realistic, more feral than any vampire show I've seen in quite some time. I cared about these two sullen children, cringed at the vampire attacks and was impressed by the sparingly-used special effects. A few hours after watching Let the Right One In, I watched it again and liked it even more the second time. It opens Friday at Landmark's Keystone Art Cinema. With the release of Milk and The Day the Earth Stood Still, most people won't even notice this small, strange gem. But you'll know, Idealized Reader, you'll know.

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