14 April, 2009
"Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire." (IMDB)
The childrens' film, The Little Vampire , where a boy befriends a vampire, always seemed just so very wrong. It was daft and dodges the death thing. Let The Right One In, a new Swedish update, goes for the realism route, although there are some people saying they would let their kids see it. Don't worry, I've already called social services on them.
This award-laden movie, adapted from his own novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, uses vampire lore and has a character who is a vampire but it's not a "vampire film" as such. It has an original story that surprises in places.
Horror without psychological truth is pointless unless you're just a SFX fan and the screenwriter does very well with the characterisation of his leads Oskar and Eli, although he is helped considerably by awesome acting. Throughout we're getting insights into being a bullied kid or a pre-teen vampire, that we might not have thought of but can see it's true. The supernatural elements are grounded in the everyday of human relationships.
Where the screenplay falls down is the psychological truth regarding a minor character. Suffice to say, slightly spoilery, this character berates a eyewitness for not calling the police and then later when he's a eyewitness himself he doesn't call them for no given reason. But he only needed one line of dialogue and everything would have been hunky-dorey. Minor characters have to be just as real as the main characters.
However despite that minor hiccup I still recommend this film, not just for the fine screenwriting and acting I've mentioned but for the photography, design and direction.
As a side note, I was a bit outraged that the UK Film Council started spending money on distributing foreign films as opposed to making British films but this release is a beneficiary of that scheme so I'm eating humble pie and hopefully it will make its way all over the UK eventually.