Let the Right One In
In my case, until I had seen the film 'Let the Right One In', I did not understand why. But now I do.
The opening of the film is a dark night sky, and snow falling down. We can hear the sound of the wind.
From there unfolds a simple story of a vampire. But not the kind of commercialized story that leaves one with some sort of vaguely disguised moral warning about feminine sexuality (pale skin, effeminate features.. do the math). This is a story of a vampire who must hunt to survive. And who depends upon humanity not only in a way we are familiar with - but also in a way , that we are not.
There is a part of us that is human, no matter what stress is placed upon us. We are cast out of the clubs we wish to join. In facing everyday problems, we are thrown back against a wall. Black oil spreads across our waters, choking our seas. A monster within us rises destroy. And yet, we remain human. Our dedication to others. Our sense of trust. There are things buried deep within us that keep us connected.
And there is also a part within us that destroys. Not the random pyrotechnic of destruction. The part that waits quietly for revenge. It calculates its next move with unerring certainty. Like the main character of 'Let the Right One In' , it is no different than a child, in many ways barely adult. In other ways, timeless.
"Let the Right One In" is a simple story that rewrites the entire vampire genre. The main character simply wishes to set right those that harm him, and defend his own. He is at a moment where the wrong person in his life could steer him toward oblivion. And the right one can save him. It is not important that this person may not be a girl, nor that she may be older, or younger - or even human. Her advice is simple. Hit back. Hard.
Who do we allow into our lives?
The sublime character of the vampire in this film is one in which her physical form transmutates before our eyes. But in such a quiet way, we are left to wonder if it really happened. Almost out of the corner of our eye. To look into her eyes, in certain moments - is to see and experience terror. A quiet terror that never leaves you.
There are weaknesses that drive us - that make our arms shake in uncertain, dystaxic jags as we bear up lifted weight. The weakness within that drives the strong to terrorize the weak. If taken at face value these weaknesses qualify to evil - and perhaps worse, an acceptance of evil.
To bring a vampire into one's own home, uninvited, characterizes the life that they take from us , the uninvited blood of their being - in a way that drives the binding force that holds them together. Perhaps it is a symbol of our own inability to accept that evil. In the film, we see what may happen if a vampire is allowed, uninvited, into your home. But in the film - instead of the event occuring as a symbolic ward against evil - it is done as an act of sacrifice and love.
Perhaps, as a matter of course - we have decided to live our lives, in the 21st century - to casually invite any manner of evil to our life - myth, and spirituality, - sensuality, moral and even the principles of virtue washed like watercolor. The collective memory of our race seemingly goes blind in the face of moral and ethical decision. In some aspect of that blindness is justice, and free will. It is a weakness that allows us just enough strength to unlock our muscle, to be able to turn the other cheek - that flexibility that allows us to go loose when we fall from great heights. It keeps us alive.
Somewhere, far in the back of our existence - we realize that we are not alone. That other forms of life exist on this planet. And we know, subliminally, that we are open its bite. And yet, perhaps a small part of us wishes this so in the hope that our lives become better. The bite of a vampire, is a sexual analog in our relationships to others in our lives - just as the mixing of blood is a symbol of the eternal. And so perhaps there is a part of us that would so value the fabric of freewill, sewn into our lives like those that we love, that we would take into our heart and share of our blood - the wrong one.
There is no point in the film we are unaware of danger. Or that we lose sight of the presence of evil. And yet, somehow, we keep our balance - a simple and beautiful film. And also, a warning: Let the right one in.
Perhaps, like a beautiful painting - that we keep in our living room - we can experience and enjoy works of art more than their shock value, the sense of a 'mini vacation' from ourselves. Unlike reality TV, an exercise in weakness and loss - films such as "Let the Right One In" - accomplish their goal and express themselves through old symbol, and timeless theme. They are about victory over evil - even if, in some sense - the evil within complements it - and the choice is not between the lesser of two evils. But the greater.