While finding something original in today’s culture of remakes and re-imaginings is often difficult, finding a new idea in the horror genre is practically unheard of. Since most horror films deal in common character and story types, when a film simply attempts to do something slightly different with an established genre archetype the result can either be terrible and banal (leading to the return to and reinforcement of genre status quo) or remarkable and innovative, leading to new interpretations of old ideas. Let the Right One In manages the impossible, bringing a fresh approach to a well-known horror archetype while still keeping within the boundaries of the mythology.

The tone and mood of this film is set early and never wavers: cold, austere, and distant. Several times I had to remind myself that this film was released in 2008 and not the early 1970s; even the use of CGI (though sparing) doesn’t detract from this feeling. The main focus of this film seems to be realism, perhaps to balance the unreal elements of story. The director strikes a fine balance between real and unreal, giving a believable picture of a figure of classic horror mythology living in contemporary society.

The acting in this film is quite good, especially from the two young leads. Both give mature, natural performances that help to strengthen the film’s credibility and realism. These performances help to increase the atmosphere of isolation and loneliness central to the film. That said, however, there is genuine warmth and tenderness between the young boy and girl which is a credit to the ability of the young actors.

In a time where horror films seem to getting larger and louder, I’m always pleased to see a director with a light touch and the confidence to make a small film about large ideas. Let the Right One In is a cold, haunting film and a welcome new take on an old formula.