Updated 01/13/11: Blu-ray review
Originally reviewed 05/16/08
As this Hammer horror melodrama from 1972 opens, schoolteacher Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne) catches his wife (Domini Blythe) and one of the young village girls making their way through the countryside in what’s apparently a quite unwholesome direction. He follows, but is unable to prevent their entry to the castle of Count Mitterhaus, a notoriously sexy vampire who holds the whole village under his sway. As the cuckold tries to marshal the shiftless men of the village for a rescue mission — experience with the Count seems to have whipped everybody here into a sense of meek helplessness — his wife offers up the young blond virgin to the vampire, who rips the girl’s throat out. The woman tears her own clothes off and Mitterhaus makes love to her. When the villagers are finally coerced to make their way to the castle with torches and grim looks, they carry away the dead girl and do battle with Mitterhaus himself, who ends up impaled through the chest on a pointed wooden stick while cursing the village in a stage whisper. Albert’s wife is brought outside and whipped as punishment for her betrayal, but finally runs back into the castle, which is set afire and burns into ruins. And then the opening credits roll.
Set in a neighborhood outside Stockholm, largely in and around a nondescript apartment complex, Let the Right One In is, first, a coming-of-age tale about Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a slight, pale boy with a shock of blond hair and good humor that belies his general beat-down wariness and barely contained anger. He’s the target of menacing schoolyard bullies and, as the film begins, we see him practicing with a knife, imagining that he’s jabbing it into the flesh of one of his tormenters. Oskar has a new neighbor, the similarly tiny and wary Eli (Lina Leandersson), who has moved into the flat next door with Hakan (Per Ragnar), an older man who seems to be her father. Hakan covers the windows with cardboard — perhaps to block out the sunlight. At one point, we hear Eli snarling, “You’re supposed to help me!” Horror-movie fans will no doubt suspect something sinister is going on, and they will be correct. Let the Right One In is certainly a horror movie, and it brings the pain in genre fashion. But it’s also a kind of Scandinavian gothic — a love story between 12-year-olds, one of whom has been 12 for a very long time.
Vincent Gallo — his face angular, perpetually scruffy, and with a piercing, insistently crazy gaze — is the fulcrum on which Trouble Every Day, a seat-clearing sexual-vampire movie from impeccable French stylist Claire Denis, turns. As usual, he looks intelligent, handsome and scary in equal measure. It’s no wonder recent gossip links him romantically with PJ Harvey. He’s that weird.