Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (2008)

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Released 18-Aug-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Deleted Scenes-Four deleted scenes - 16 x 9 enhanced
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-15 stills from the film - 16 x 9 enhanced
Trailer-Seven Madman Asylum trailers - Rated MA
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 109:53
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tomas Alfredson
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kåre Hedebrant
Lina Leandersson
Per Ragnar
Henrik Dahl
Karin Bergquist
Peter Carlberg
Ika Nord
Mikael Rahm
Karl-Robert Lindgren
Anders T. Peedu
Pale Olofsson
Cayetano Ruiz
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Johan Söderqvist


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Swedish dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, some casual drinking and smoking
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Let the Right One In has achieved cult and critical acclaim in a short time, soon after it's theatrical release in January 2008. The film is based on the same 2004 Swedish bestseller by author John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay to the 2008 film. The title of the film is based on vampire folk lore which states that a vampire cannot enter a house unless invited in. Director Tomas Alfredson changed some aspects of the novel for it's theatrical adaptation, focusing on the love story between the main characters and omitting some of the references in the novel to traditional vampire and horror genres. Lindqvist acquiesced to the majority of Alfredson's ideas, but he did insist on the scene where Eli, the child vampire (played brilliantly by Lina Leandersson) enters a house uninvited and subsequently begins to haemorrhage. Alfredson tried to tone down this scene with minimal music, worried about it's critical reception with audiences. Overall, the scene was lauded and accepted as synchronous in tone to Eli's character, as played by Leandersson, throughout the rest of the film.

    One important area that Alfredson omitted from the novel was the backstory to the character of Hakan, who plays Eli's minder in the film. In the novel it's revealed that Hakan is a former teacher who was dismissed from his job amidst accusations of paedophilia. In the novel he assists Eli in procuring victims in exchange for money, which he insists that he would do it for nothing in exchange for intimacy with Eli. The two main aspects that makes this film so engrossing for the viewer is the acting from the two lead characters and the way that director Thomas Alfredson has adapted John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel in making the child vampire, Eli, so sympathetic despite being an avaricious and bloodthirsty murderer. In hindsight, Alfredson was right to make the character of Hakan more ambiguous, we don't know if he's Eli's father or an unrelated minder, we just see him struggle to get victims, much like the novel.

    The main protagonist of the film, 12 year-old Oskar, played by Kare Hedebrant, is bullied at school, and it is in his developing friendship with Eli that we sympathise with these minority characters who both don't have much going for them. The theme of bullying is important to the film, because for much of the screen-time we see Oskar imagining how he will assert and confront his attackers. It is the same compassionate emotion that we, the audience, employ in viewing this film as the similar-themed Swedish film : As It Is in Heaven. Although As It Is in Heaven is a completely different film in regards to genre, it does focus on the abuse of power in relationships, a theme that can be also seen in Let the Right One In through the eyes of Oskar. Alfredson credited the outstanding performance of his young actors for the success of the film worldwide.

    The novel also goes into detail in explaining the androgynous nature of Eli, again, in the film we aren't exactly sure of Eli's sexuality, although Eli does tell Oskar that she "is not a girl". Scenes were shot, in flashback, emphasising this part of Eli's character, but these scenes were excised from the final cut. The uncertainty of Eli's nature is also seen in the fact that Lina Leandersson's voice was dubbed by Elif Ceylan, so that her voice wasn't so high-pitched.

    The Region 4 release by Madman Entertainment's Asylum label thankfully uses the original theatrical subtitling in English, not the dumbed-down 'dub-titling' that was used on the Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray release of this film. This caused huge controversies amongst fans, so much so that Magnolia Home Entertainment, the company that distributed Let the Right One In in the United States has agreed to do future pressings with the original theatrical subtitles, alas with no exchanges for consumers who have already purchased the product. At the time of writing this review, it wasn't clear if Magnolia has re-issued their DVD, but Region 2 and Region 4 DVD collectors will view the film with the correct subtitling. More detailed information on this issue can be read here.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The original theatrical aspect ratio of Let the Right One In is 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions. I knew instantly that something was amiss when I popped in my review copy of the Region 4 release, because it did not look to have the same aspect ratio as my Region 1 copy of the film. The Region 4 release is definitely cropped, my screen captures, done on my personal computer, show the image to be about 2:22:1. This means that 2.75% of the image is cropped on the left and right sides of the screen. Why the image has been transferred this way for the Region 4 release is unclear.

    The movie is dual layered, taking up 5.7 gb of space on DVD with an average bitrate of 5.8 m/b per sec. This may seem average for DVD, however, a lot of the film is set in dark and cold scenery, and since blacks don't use as much video information as other colours, this may explain why Let the Right One In still looks fairly sharp and detailed, especially in it's contrast between white (e.g. snow) and black (e.g. night time).

    The colour palette of the film is deliberately muted and dark. This is because the film is set in the early 1980's in a poorer suburb of Stockholm, Blackeburg, as evidenced by the compacted urban apartment layout that is used in the film.

    There are no film artefacts in the video transfer.

    The subtitles are in yellow and as mentioned previously, Madman Entertainment has used the original theatrical subtitling for this release.

    The RSDL change occurs at 68:43, just before a scene transition.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Madman's website listing at the time of this review states that the audio on this DVD is Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo 2.0. In fact, the DVD has a choice of two soundtracks, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. These soundtracks are quite good.

    The default soundtrack when choosing to play the film from the menu is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. You can also choose to view the film in DTS, encoded at 768 kbps, through the setup option in the main menu. The DTS track has more resonance in the bass sounds through the subwoofer and is generally louder and more discrete than the Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    Dialogue is clear and audio is synchronised throughout.

    The music by Johan Soderqvist is both hopeful and upbeat, while still employing suspense effects in support of the vampire horror theme of the film.

    All surround sound channels are used in both soundtracks.

    The subwoofer is amply supported throughout the film with simple yet great low sounding effects used by the composer to maintain suspense in key scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Deleted Scenes

These are four deleted scenes from the film totalling 5:55 with optional subtitles. Unfortunately there is no optional commentary from the director, which has become somewhat of an industrial standard in this type of extra feature on DVD and Blu-ray. These deleted scenes are also presented in 16x9 enhancement for widescreen televisions.

Theatrical Trailer

This trailer goes for about 1:30. It's not very indicative of the main plot of the film, perhaps it is too short.

Gallery

This gallery contains fifteen 16x9 enhanced for widescreen television stills from the film. These can be scrolled through forwards or backwards via remote control.

Trailer

There are seven Madman Entertainment Asylum trailers for similarly MA rated films: REC, King of the Hill, Dead in Three Days, Fear(s) of the Dark, Hush, Diary of the Dead and Gruesome.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States release has Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack in both Swedish and English. It also contains a "Behind the Scenes" featurette (7:37), deleted scenes (5:54), photo gallery (21 images)and a theatrical poster gallery (6 images). The US release does not contain the original theatrical subtitling in English.

    The Region 2 United Kingdom release uses a Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio descriptive track but it also contains an audio commentary by director Thomas Alfredson and screenwriter John Ajvide Lindqvist which is apparently highly commended. This release also has the same deleted scenes, trailer and stills gallery as the Region 4 release.

    The Region 2 Swedish and German releases are similar to the UK release in that they both have a Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio descriptive track. The audio commentary on the Swedish and German releases are in Swedish however. All Region 2 releases use the original theatrical subtitling that is also found on the Region 4 Madman Entertainment Asylum release.

Summary

    Let the Right One In is not a typical teenage-related gore-fest like the Hostel or Saw franchises. Although there are some gory scenes in the film, the movie draws in it's audience through the magnificent performances of it's two lead actors, Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant, who director Thomas Alfredson took a year to cast. Alfredson succeeds in enabling the viewer to empathise with the real-world and other-world struggles of both Oskar and Eli, you will find the film very believable, despite the fact that it is set in the early 1980s, which the viewer would hardly notice unless it is pointed out to them.

    The Region 4 Madman Entertainment Asylum label release is enigmatic. On the one hand it contains a great audio transfer, utilising a DTS 5.1 soundtrack and an excellent video transfer, however that video transfer is cropped from the original theatrical release aspect ratio of 2:35:1 to approximately 2:22:1 (hence my video rating of 3 and a half stars instead of 4 and a half). The Region 4 release does use the correct subtitling and is similar to the Region 2 United Kingdom DVD release but it does not contain the director's and screenwriter's audio commentary in English. Perhaps Madman could not get the rights to this commentary. The Madman website listing shows extras and DVD specifications more similar to the Region 1 United States release, in my opinion, the Region 4 DVD release looks like a port of the United Kingdom region-free Blu-ray release which also contains similar extras and uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, October 05, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 019), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
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