Låt den Rätte Komma In (2008) – The Soul Underneath The Mask

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In films or literature, gothic thrillers and vampirism pledge to have some sort of immunity against time, akin to the vampires themselves. They hardly ever seem to run out of fashion. If such an unthinkable event happens to grace the world of literature, the vampires return with a vengeance and leave another lasting impression—refusing to die in their vow for immortality. Since the birth of the legendary Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s epistolary epic, Dracula, vampires have been objects of sultry fascination—almost a seductive charm circling them—fascinating people with their mystique and immortality brewing from lust and a deadly venomous constitution. As such, vampirism has touched each frame of films, with vampires serving as protagonists, antagonists, antiheroes, heroes, sheer villains, and even comic personalities. Ranging from horrors, thrillers, comedies, dramas, and fantasies, filmmakers have presented exquisite stories of love, redemption, disgust, repulsion, and salvation, whilst highlighting vampires as gruesome creatures of lust, or innocent beings caged in the underworld of terror.

Hailing from such terrorizing underworlds of the mystic, Let the Right One In is a dramatic gothic thriller unlike any other gothic fiction—bestowing vampirism on another level, a humane and territorial plane, and presenting a story of a preadolescent boy, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), and his journey from solitude to company, eventually revenge and love. The plot of Let the Right… finds itself graciously on the soldiers of Oskar and his little secret friend Eli (Lina Leandersson)—their friendship, individual conflicts, and their ultimate salvation, as they realize their worth in unity, and around the realm of aloneness, they lie isolated—unable to fulfill their actions in this tree of life. Contrary to vampire and gothic mysteries of the past, the story is propounded through the emotions of two ordinary children in the demesne of the society as we study today over the sensual and shadowy composition of vampirism, ever so common. An adaptation from the novel of the same name by John Advide Lindqvist, also the screenplay writer, Let The Right One In has the primary traits of an accomplished novel—a rhythmic flow, descriptive, and deeply touching in terms of the mood.

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From the inception itself, Tomas Alfredson introduces viewers to the screamingly serene suburb of Blackeberg in Stockholm—a place when the night overrules the day and the internal tension within the characters reflect the nocturnal blindness suppressing the clarity of the daytime. Surfacing the deepest sentiments in the darkness surrounding Oskar’s locality, the young boy finds solace in venturing into news pieces of cruelty and crime. As a bullied child in school, with not many friends, living with a single mother, Oskar has no real authority within him and outside to trot him towards self-actualization. In turn, he uses these hobbies as catharsis—releasing his inner turmoil and his depleted sense of self. On one such misty and dark night, Oskar comes ahead a frail looking girl—who smelled odd, for him—and finds himself fascinated by the murky ice-cold figure of a girl. It was darkness for Oskar before. Darkness for Eli, it was, for certain—forever. Having met one another in the midst of darkness and solitude, they form a close bond beyond any, the two have in their lives and yonder—bringing each other closer to reality and forcing the duo to face up to their internal chaos right on the eye.

Characterizing the topographic constitution of Stockholm and its climatic range as the central themes in the unuttered conflict alive in atmosphere, the filming acts as a third character—illuminating the state of Oskar and Eli through the mood in Stockholm. Particularly in terms of the sets, creating the early 80s setting, the Art team of the movie led by Eva Noren, and the intriguing film captures (Hoyte van Hoytema) lay a textbook disposition in the background. Foretelling the paradox that would resemble sanity on the exterior, yet insanity within, the movie sets a poetic backdrop for the lead characters to presage the budding disaster. Their evolution from division of forces to one unified faction built on the innate sentiments of love, trust, and empathy reaches the hearts of the viewers through the sources of the characters’ physical mannerisms, the tone set by Alfredson, and the silent voices of the city. The silent exchanges between the characters, consequently, keeps the story evolving—as not much utterance is needed when the environment around them do the whispering in perfect communion with the magnificent and situational background score (Johan Soderqvist) that evokes an unusual bond for these characters and the metered flow of the story.

Peculiar and absurd, the shift of the focus from Oskar and his state in the first half to Eli and her unending trauma in the second—creates a mellowed effect on the viewer, with what seemed a vulnerable lad in Oskar—now no longer prone to such uneasiness. Mother Nature would take care of Oskar, despite his psychic state. For Eli, her life has no purpose. Contradicting Oskar and his development, Eli continues to remain who she is, without the secret portions of Oskar. Oskar would someday grow and become a man. Whereas Eli would remain, whom she is—a young, feeble bloodthirsty vampire chained by the darker sides of the world—helpless, cursed with immortality. The 180 degree turn the story takes after the meeting of Oskar and Eli, specifically there, the novelist/screenwriter and the director execute the shift of tension and the quandary of statelessness with ease and power—showing the viewers what they see isn’t what is and what is—is beyond the power of vision.

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Soulful in projection of these two innocent beings trapped in their own mayhem, where togetherness seems complimentary. Despite life being a ride of negatives, the joyful aspects far outweigh their miseries; precisely for the two unlikely lovers, they bring to the table abundance of joys and a partnership promising to ease the burdens of fate. A complete drift from the norm, the movie is a blissful experience of the highest emotion of empathy, with the stirring combination of a deep plotline aided by natural performances of the two young actors and a sweetly delicate execution. Låt den Rätte Komma In is touching, raveling—one of the most poetic emotional dramas of our time.

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