This Swedish horror picture has much more bite to it than the sexual tang of the recent Teeth as it earns its rating in a similar way. It also has the same kind of handle on its story and characters as the affecting Argentinian drama XXY.
Let the Right One In can be chilling, yet works so well as an evocative coming-of-ager with bright performances by newcomers Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson (who in certain unsavory scenes resembles a young Sara Gilbert).
Hedebrant's Oskar is a finespun fellow, a 12-year-old living with his mother in a wan, wintry neighborhood who is constantly picked on at school by older kids.
In his yard one night when he is "playing" with his knife he sees Eli (Leandersson) the raven-coiffed girl who just moved next door.
Director Tomas Alfredson and writer John Ajivide Lindqvist heat things up as a murder investigation has mystified local authorities with bloodless victims hanging upside down. Eli has some odd habits, besides not being bothered by deep freezing conditions, and admonishes Oskar, "I cannot be your friend."
For nearly a century there have been vampire movies but Let the Right One In is one of the few that is rendered with taut, tender truthfulness. The production, especially through the cinematography, casts a stark, eerie light.
It becomes clear through keen passages how a bloodsucking tale can be shiftingly bittersweet. The youthful actors bring the right blend of passion, curiosity and pensiveness to the caustic nature of being so attached to someone so close to you. It's the right kind of old Halloween tale invigorated with young blood.