I had high hopes for the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In. Lest you harbor these lofty hopes too, let's squelch that right off: The much ballyhooed Scandinavian film is neither scary, teen angsty, nor spooky enough, but it is lovely, filled with austere blue-hued snow and groves of haunting birch trees in the midst of Stockholm. And while the Right One is by no means a poor entry in the vampire genre, it left me nearly as cold as the frozen landscapes, meting out little satisfaction on both a horror level and on a character level. To be fair, the film doesn't pretend to scare you—it truly wants to succeed in an elegant, understated way, though it doesn't completely reach its goal.
Oskar is an introverted 12-year-old boy growing up in a cramped apartment in Stockholm. His Lord of the Flies-loving classmates call him "piggy" and bully him constantly—and it's not hard to see why they hate him, with his quiet and slightly psychopathic tendencies, plus the fact that he looks like albino Edgar Winter. A 12-year-old girl, Eli, and her guardian move in next door, and Oskar befriends the equally creepy-looking girl. When neighbors start disappearing and Oskar realizes that Eli only comes out at night, he finally deduces that his new BFF is a blood-sucking vamp (he's not the smartest albino in the Milky Way). Their tentative relationship becomes more complex, as Oskar grows a backbone and Eli, in turn, has his back when the bullies threaten his life.
If it were not for the fact that both Oskar and Eli are seriously unlikeable, Let the Right One In could have been a touching coming-of-age romance. Yet Oskar is a simpering doormat, and Eli is a dirty, blood-smeared moppet. It's hard to care what happens to them—neither seems to have any relatable emotions. Basically we're dealing with emo tweenagers who are as unpalatable as the real-life versions.
Director Tomas Alfredson makes some seriously confusing choices in Let the Right One In, like implying that Oskar's father is gay (Wha? Is this why the kid likes to stab trees with his knife?!), having goofy CGI cats completely swarm a woman, and portraying Eli's middle-aged guardian as the most bumbling murderer in all of history (One can only assume he was her past boyfriend, who has now aged while she remains forever 12—so you'd think he'd have a couple decades' worth of practice killing her meals). Then there are the strange camera misdirections... I don't know, Let the Right One In just left me with a lot of questions I'm too indifferent to answer.