From Nosferatu to Thirst, films have tried to capture the shadowy, seductive figure of the vampire. Writer Anne Billson chronicles the creature’s evolution.
Slide Eleven: Let the Right One In/Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
The most impressive vampire movie of the new millennium is Tomas Alfredson's haunting Let the Right One In adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel and set in 1982 in Blackeberg, a snow-covered working-class housing estate near Stockholm. Like Twilight, it's about the relationship between a young human and a vampire, but there the resemblance ends, because the film reclaims the vampire from boy-band territory and restores to it the power to hint at emotional truths too troubling to be tackled in mainstream drama. The protagonists are Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old misfit whose feminine, quasi-albino blondeness make him stand out from the crowd, and Eli, a 200-year-old vampire who looks like a little girl but whose sexually complicated history is explored in the novel (and wisely excised from the film, though there's one brief shot alluding to it). Alfredson never shies away from the creepiness inherent in such a liaison, with disturbingly ambiguous results: it's never clear whether the vampire regards her new friend as potential food, a soulmate, a human slave, or all three of these things simultaneously. Either way, Lina Leandersson's remarkable performance hints at all the alienation and detachment of an age-old struggle for survival in which the search for sustenance is all and material trappings have simply ceased to matter.