There are no fangs grimacing or droplets of blood smeared across the Blu-ray Disc box art for Let the Right One In because it is not your typical vampire film. It’s not quite a traditional “horror” or “romance,” either. It is something…else.
The Swedish story, based on the best-selling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist who also penned the script, is told through from the perspective of a 12-year old bullied boy, Oskar, who finds no comfort from his separated parents much less his nonexistent friends. He takes a stick’s hard lashing across the face from schoolmates to the misguided screams of anger from his mother with an equal display of obliviousness, carefully hiding his true feelings underneath overly pale skin and a frail body.
Nothing in life surprises young Oskar anymore. For a boy his age he’s seen it all from a mundane existence, opting to turn towards homicidal mysteries in the news for something new to study. Not even encountering a strange 12-year old girl, Eli, at night in front of his apartment whose odor is foul and clothing far too thin for the harsh temperature and snow startles him. In fact, everything “different” about her seems to intrigue Oskar more. Eli is as lonely and detached from the world around her as he.
The portrayal of Eli as a vampire who struggles to remain emotionally distant from everyone she encounters while coming across as nothing more than a troubled young girl immediately sets Let the Right One In apart from other vampire films. Her vampirism is not about using her powers to fend off rogue vampires or werewolves, or making sure she doesn’t take a stake through the heart. She is struggling with every sharp hunger pain to survive, and to do so must always remain on the move. Staying in one place will only lead to death. In Oskar she sees a long-term savior, and in her he finds the strength to fend for himself.
Let the Right One In is brutal one moment and intimately tender the next. It will touch you emotionally if you let it, whether by making you cringe while blood streams from Eli’s eyes or skip a heartbeat when Eli strokes Oskar’s arm as they lay naked in bed. Besides from a brief flash of nudity, it can speak strongly to a younger generation already growing up on vampires with the Twilight series if they can get past the subtitles and slow deliberate pace. With most of the vampire clichés brushed under the rug to give way to the grim and stark reality vampires face living amongst a society that won’t accept them, this film is a fresh entry in a genre that, with the additional help of True Blood, is beginning to redefine itself in fascinating new ways.
Let the Right One In comes to Blu-ray Disc as the first entry in Magnolia Home Entertainment’s Six Shooter Film Series. The second entry in the series, Eden Log, is due for release on Blu-ray this May.
Magnolia is presenting Let the Right One In on Blu-ray in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio at 1080p resolution via a VC-1 encode. The dark, dreary and near colorless cinematography give this transfer fits at times, becoming susceptible to light posterization amidst the gray backgrounds and inconsistent “softness” that varies from one scene to the next. At times the transfer is magnificent with a light coating of film grain, excellent detail and strong blacks. Other less frequent times, especially when contrast is nearly non-existent, the softness is as much a plague as a vampire’s bite. Overall the high-def presentation is far superior to the standard DVD resolution footage shown during the bonus features and serves the film well.
The title menu shows off deep bass tones that carry forth into the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix available in the original Swedish track or a newly dubbed English version. Anytime there’s a bass strike to create tension is rattles and reverberates around the room with authority. Surrounds are not quite as effective, used more for brief “flying” effects or distant ambient noise. Dialogue is a tad on the low side compared to the score and effects but nothing to be concerned about.
Just over 13 minutes of bonus features offer a brief glimpse into producing Let the Right One In but not much else. All are presented in standard definition, even a Photo Gallery and Poster Galery with four images.
Deleted scenes (5:32) – Four scenes are available, three of which are redundant to what is already in the film. The fourth makes a small intimate scene in the final cut more relevant and should have been left intact.
Behind the Scenes (7:37) – Director Tomas Alfredson dishes some interesting tidbits such as the film’s time setting and thought process behind a couple important scenes. This should have been longer, or at the least Alfredson should have sat down for an audio commentary – especially since he speaks English more comfortably than most foreign directors.
I left Let the Right One In eager to discuss my interpretation of its events and fate of its characters. There’s still so much more to know about Eli, especially her “many years” as a 12-year old before meeting Oskar. How did she become a vampire and survive? What has driven her to keep on living when others seemingly would rather burn when discovering their “infection?” Sadly we may never know.
Consider the release of Let the Right One In on Blu-ray a gift for the format. It’s not technically the best looking or sounding disc out there but that does not matter. Embrace a fresh take on vampirism that tugs on your emotions and turns the genre on its head.
– Dan Bradley
Click here to purchase Let the Right One In on Blu-ray from Amazon.com.