It’s hard being twelve. Being Swedish probably doesn’t help, with the long, dark winters and constant snowfall. Being a smaller kid with an absentee father who’s a target for bullies certainly doesn’t help.
What does help, though, is getting a girlfriend. Sure, she’s a little strange looking, sometimes very pale, and the windows on her apartment are papered over, and people start mysteriously vanishing from the neighborhood, but hey–a girlfriend’s a girlfriend.
And here we have the crux of this Swedish vampire tale, which plays very cleverly on the vampire legend and, in particular, the notion of a vampire not being able to enter a person’s home without permission. (Something I’ve always considered metaphorical.) Whom do you let into your life?
This movie felt really Swedish. Somewhat slow, dark (literally and metaphorically), brooding and snow-covered, the bursts of violence is especially shocking given the quiet, bourgeois surroundings.
It also works by avoiding, on the one hand, the pitfalls of glamorizing vampires, and on the other by making the vampire victims largely sympathetic. There’s really only one truly evil character, and it doesn’t seem to be the vampire.
It’s a good movie, and there’s really only one thing that doesn’t work. But if I say what that is, and you watch it, you’ll be thinking about that thing through the whole movie, and it’s really unnecessary to the film (but is a vestigial remnant of the backstory in the book).
Suffice to say, there’s one aspect of the story you may wonder about, and it has to do with a very short shot (in the USA version) where we see the vampire naked from the waist down. (This is simulated; no actual naked twelve-year-olds were shown, I’m told.) I totally misinterpreted what I was seeing.
The Boy liked it and we think it was probably way better than the teeny-bopper Twilight.
And if you don’t like subtitles, give ‘em a year and you’ll see this movie remade in English. (But it probably won’t be as good.)