LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (LÅT DEN RÄTTE KOMMA IN) (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Nitehawk Cinema Prospect Park
188 Prospect Park West
Tuesday, January 21, $95, 7:15
If you have a taste for the ghoulish, you’re likely to get sucked in by Nitehawk’s latest Film Feast, in which a multicourse meal accompanies a movie for the cinematic gourmand. On January 21, Nitehawk’s Prospect Park branch will be serving up a delicious gem, the original Swedish thriller Let the Right One In, a chilling yet tender coming-of-age story about friendship and the meaning of family. In a snow-covered Stockholm suburb, twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is severely bullied by Conny (Patrik Rydmark), Andreas (Johan Sömnes), and Martin (Mikael Erhardsson). The frail, blond Oskar dreams of getting even, but he always backs down. But then he meets the dark-haired, somewhat feral Eli (Lina Leandersson, dubbed by Elif Ceylan), who has moved in next door in their apartment complex. While Oskar lives with his divorced mother (Karin Bergquist) — his father (Henrik Dahl) has moved out to the country — Eli lives with Håkan (Per Ragnar), an older father figure who goes out to gather what Eli needs to survive: blood. But the aging Håkan begins encountering difficulties, forcing Eli to go out and hunt down her own food. As people start to go missing in the small community, Eli and Oskar’s friendship begins to blossom, two outsiders coming to terms with who they are. But when Oskar suddenly strikes back, Conny’s older brother, Jimmy (Rasmus Luthander), gets involved, and the steaks, er, stakes, get a whole lot higher.
Based on the 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is a gripping horror film that is one of the best of the young century. By making the protagonists children with common adolescent problems, Lindqvist, who wrote the screenplay, and director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Snowman) create a more realistic setting, so the scares are that much more intense. Hedebrant and Leandersson have a magical chemistry, their tentativeness and fears intoxicating. They exist in a world that is meant only for them; all of the adults are essentially peripheral, whether parents, teachers, or community members wondering what is going on, and the other kids are merely in their way. And it’s all about that very moment; they both might be twelve, but Eli is going to be that age forever while Oskar gets older.
The atmosphere is thick and tense throughout, elevated by Hoyte van Hoytema’s inventive cinematography and Johan Söderqvist’s dramatic score, performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. Despite some very memorable scenes involving shocking violence, at its heart Let the Right One In is a sweetly innocent love story, albeit with a few unusual complications. Matt Reeves directed a 2010 English-language remake starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz, and the National Theatre of Scotland staged a terrific theatrical adaptation that played at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2015, but there’s still nothing like the original, a visually stunning and psychologically adept fresh new take on the vampire legend.
The five-course feast, with each dish and cocktail named after a part of the film, consists of “”A Little About Drugs” (black cherry, lemon infused Absolut, clarified lemon juice, black shaved ice) with “Good Job Pig” (caraway scented pork belly, pickled carrots, rosemary parsnip purée); “You Smell Funny” (lingonberry, Swedish punsch, allspice, cinnamon, Absolut, Amaro Pasubio, violets, Laphroaig 10 Yr.) with “the Sled Drag” (blodpudding, celery root, Napa cabbage, lingonberry); “Oskar, Do You Like Me?” (acid adjusted apple juice, dill infused Absolut, pine, Salers, pickled apple) with “I’m Trapped” (Swedish meatballs with pour it yourself Absolut gravy); “Virginia!” (Absolut, banana, cream, walnut, caraway, served ice cold) with “Blood Brothers” (rye bröd, gravlax, apple, dill crème fraîche, beet reduction splatter), and “Thank You” (frozen chocolate and espresso martini, white shaved ice) with a “Bloody Kiss” (Hallongrotta, Absolut Pear whipped cream, powdered sugar). Smaklig måltid!