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Let the Right One In

An off-beat, moody tale of two pre-teens, one of whom is a vampire

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Tomas Alfredson's drama is an intriguing hybrid of coming-of-age story and horror. Set in the early 1980s in wintry Stockholm, it details the budding relationship between a pair of 12-year-olds: Oskar, the wispy blond boy who is a perennial victim of bullying classmates, and Eli, a dark-haired girl who only comes out at night. We quickly deduce she's a vampire -- she says right out, "I'm not a girl" -- but Oskar is thrilled to have a friend and an unlikely protector. The film has the moody, spare vibe of a Scandinavian indie with kitchen-sink themes, with just a jolt of bloody violence (briefly shown). It's less a vampire film than a disquieting, sensitive portrait of outcasts; thus, there's something both sad and matter-of-fact about these kids suffering through the miseries of pre-adolescence. (This includes the worst field trip ever.) The title is a play on one of the rules of vampiredom, which states that vampires can't enter unless invited. But in this story, invitations must be mutually considered, and the taking of a life has more variations than you initially suspect. In Swedish, with subtitles. Harris

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