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Let The Right One In

Adolescence is savage. Adolescence is brutal. It is confusing and heartbreaking. It is hopeful and wondrous. You are altogether alone but surrounded by those who are going through much of the same things. Some lash out, some withdraw inwards and everyone is suspicious. There is nothing quite as frightening as entering adolescence, except maybe adolescent love. I will tell you right now that Tomas Alfredson's film Let The Right One In examines these issues with an unflinching brilliance that is rarely dared to be executed. As to my knowledge, not since the great Japanese film Battle Royale has this been done so effectively. I have often said that Science-Fiction and Horror are in a rare position to take metaphor to new levels and that it is a crime that such things are rarely taken advantage of, even more so that they fail to get their deserved credit when they do. Let us hope that this film does not suffer the same fate. Coming of age films are rarely this fierce. At such a time in life, the opposite sex is so alien that they might as well be a different species, something that is entirely beyond relation. So much so that they might as well be Vampires. Forget Twilight. Wipe it from your mind. This is the true Vampire metaphor of this generation. Introduced to us at the film's opening is Oskar, a scrawny blond boy twelve years of age who lives in a small town outside of Stockholm. Oskar is a peculiar young boy who enjoys collecting newspaper clippings of murder reports and is constantly tormented by children at his school, particularly by a young boy named Conny. Oskar never fights back, knowing he could never find the courage or the strength to stand up to them and resigns himself to merely fantasizing about his revenge. He spends his nights in his housing development's playground, acting out these fantasies, stabbing trees while quoting lines from Deliverance and Taxi Driver and one particular night he meets a young girl named Eli. The escalation of their relationship is done so awkwardly perfect. At first, Eli informs him that she cannot be friends with him and abruptly leaves. But she is drawn back to him the next night and he gives her a Rubik's cube as a present. They only see each other at night, in the playground and together they learn Morse code in order to talk to each other through their apartment walls. I tell you, there are few things more endearing than watching a young couple tell each other 'sweet dreams' through a series of taps on a wall. Eli is the one person capable of understanding Oskar. She gives him strength. The strength to fight back, the strength to stand up for himself. It is a testament to the confidence that being in love can bestow upon you. The vampire aspects of the film are astounding, some of the best ever put on film and as Oskar slowly beings to realize the true nature of his beloved, it is a wonder to behold the way they make sacrifices for each other. Oskar is scared at first, and who wouldn't be? But Eli proves times after time that she will never hurt him, culminating in a beautiful scene in which she enters his house uninvited, subjecting herself to pain and horror beyond comprehension. It is in this moment that Oskar realizes that he too in turn would never let anything happen to Eli. Love overrides his fear. The gore is beautiful and tasteful and stays for the most part in the periphery. And it does not need to be any closer. It is the proper embellishment to such a ferociously uncompromising love story but the truly primal scenes in the movie are watching these two young people learn to understand and communicate with their alien companion. Their lives are bound and they will be saved from both loneliness and evil only by each other. I implore you: learn Morse code. It will make the final scene all the more beautiful.