This film arrived on a wave of critical adoration of the type that really made me sit up and take notice. It was frequently compared to Pan’s Labyrinth. That’s one of those rare films that both lives within a genre and yet utterly transcends it – it’s a dark fantasy/fairy-tale, but it’s all together more than that. It also happens to be one of my all time favourite films. I adore it.
So to hear Let The Right One In talked of in the same way by the same critics was a strong indicator that I needed to see this. It’s a Swedish film, about a teenagers and their parents. The twist is that one of the teenagers just happens to be a vampire. But this is no Buffy – it’s mood, beautifully shot and not a little existential. The performances are fine, and the story unfolds at a pleasingly languid pace, all the while hinting of all sorts of hidden motivations and history. There’s a deeply moving and rather horrifying act of sacrifice which will stay with you (in a good way) for a long time.
But it just doesn’t add up for me. Whereas Pan’s Labyrinth took was effectively a stock story and pointed to far greater truths, this film ambles around with a disappointing lack of direction. There’s also a last minute rescue that makes no narrative sense whatsoever, and only seems to exist to allow a happy, upbeat ending that’s totally at odds with the tone of all that’s gone before. It’s a shame, as on the surface there’s much to commend this; but I felt badly let down. Maybe I should never read another review, never allow another comparison into my head. But this could have been so much more, and clearly has an ambition to be that. Which makes it all the more disappointing.