Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Let the Right One in (Devil's Advocates) – review

Author: Anne Billson

First published: 2011

The Blurb: Vampires have never been so popular. Amid the glut (Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Blade and Underworld movies) it takes a very special vampire movie to stand out. Like Twilight, the Swedish film Let the Right One In is a love story between a human and a vampire but there the resemblance ends. Let the Right One In is not a romantic fantasy but combines the supernatural with social realism. Set on a housing estate in the suburbs of Stockholm in the early 1980s, it’s the story of Oskar, a lonely, bullied child, who makes friends with Eli, the girl in the next apartment. 'Oskar, I'm not a girl,' she tells him and she's not kidding. They forge a relationship which is oddly innocent yet disturbing, two outsiders against the rest of the world. But one of these outsiders is, effectively, a serial killer. What does Eli want from Oskar? While Let the Right One In is startlingly original, it nevertheless couldn't have existed without the near century of vampire cinema that preceded it. Acclaimed film critic and horror novelist Anne Billson looks at how it has drawn from, and wrung new twists on, such classics as Nosferatu (1922), how vampire cinema has already flirted with social realism in films like Martin (1977) and Near Dark (1987) and how vampire mythology adapts itself to the modern world.

The review: This is a slim, short book and is a love letter to the film Let the Right One In – novelist Billson wearing her heart on her sleeve and it is a chatty and pleasant read.

It does have problems, however. A lack of referencing and indexing is always annoying in a reference work but there are moments of slight error that suggest that the author, whilst serious about her love of the film (and the wider genre), is perhaps not as immersed as she might be. The best example is her calling the transformation of Lucy, in Dracula as “The first and probably best known” (p81) inclusion of such a thing in the genre. Whilst it might be the best known it certainly was not the first example by a long shot.

The other issue to mention was the relatively high price for such a slim volume, however you can find the book second hand for a fair price.

Niggles aside, this was a fun, swift read. 6 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK


Ben Moor said...

I would love one day to see a screen adaptation of Anne Billson's 90s novel Suckers - one of my favourite works of vampire fiction.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Ben, its been an absolute age since I read it, but remember really enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by ­čśŐ