I was a bit wary to watch Let the Right One In on DVD, seeing as there is a controversy over the translation in the subtitles. Magnolia/MAGNET have since relented to the critics and will release future DVD editions with the more sensitive theatrical subs. But I watched the first edition with the ‘bad’ subs and then immediately went and read about the differences. And I still enjoyed the movie.

There’s so little dialogue in the film and so much atmosphere, any fault in the subtitles is not enough to wound the movie. Yes, it’s a vampire tale, but a rather unconventional one. A twelve-year-old boy, Oskar, is bullied at school and his parents don’t relate to him. He makes friends with the new girl in town, one who has a mysteriously strong taste for blood. Yes, she’s a vampire, but that doesn’t stop them from having a fascinating relationship that might even be love.

As the director Tomas Alfredson says, on an interview included with the disc, he and his team were given a free hand in shooting the movie and he feels audiences responded to the “integrity” with which it was made. I think he’s right, and I fear for the coming American remake.

The movie is told obliquely, often from Oskar’s innocent perspective, in meticulously composed shots. Kudos to d.p. Hoyte Van Hoytema. Not since Sven Nykvist has winter light been so beautifully photographed.

The effects are also done in a restrained way. Used sparingly, to great effect. There were no seams (with perhaps the exception of a dead body looking too much like a dummy).

If Stanley Kubrick had made a vampire movie, it might be much like this one. Recommend.

Firstshowing.net interview with director Tomas Alfredson
The novel the movie is based on: