This Swedish movie lacks the romanticism of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the teenybopper appeal of Twilight and the action-packed sequences of Underworld. But this is a good thing; the film’s barren landscapes and lingering shots are all it needs to haunt audiences. And we praise director Tomas Alfredson for having crafted one of the most memorable films about a vampire in love.
Eli (Leandersson) is a 12-year-old vampire who moves into a new flat in a Stockholm suburb with her caretaker. When she meets Oskar (Hedebrant), a pale blond boy at the mercy of a group of bullies, Eli falls in love. The two exchange tender moments together; when apart, the young girl stalks the streets and feeds on unsuspecting townsfolk. From the sound effects (the actual heartbeats of the child actors) to the locations, the Swedish director keeps it organic and minimal; the few locations used in this film include a desolate snow-covered playground and Eli’s one-bedroom apartment, with its peeling wallpaper and treasures collected over 200 years.
In the film’s most grotesque scenes of dismemberment, Alfredson combines the tenderness of Martin Weisz’s psychological horror film Grimm Love (2006) and the vulnerability of Guillermo del Toro’s dark child fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Our personal favourite? The swimming pool scene at the end of the film. If you think you’ve seen one too many coming-of-age films or emo vampire romances, allow Alfredson and co to take you to a new terrain of supernatural love.