It’s a while since an ‘arthouse’ film has received such universal praise (covers on Electric Sheep and Little White Lies) and it’s a relief that it lives up to its reputation. The imdb rating also indicates high audience satisfaction so it is a film that, simply, must be seen. It is a vampire movie, without knowledge of the genre audiences would be puzzled as it assumes we know the generic tropes. The only one missing, I think, is using a crucifix to ‘fight off’ the beast. Except the vampire is not a beast but someone else who you don’t really know so, if you let them into your lives/hearts, you need to make sure you let the right one in.
The title refers to the ‘fact’ that vampires need to be invited across the threshold of your home. Without wanting to spoil the narrative point, there is a brilliant reversal of this in the film. There is much that is brilliant: the portrayal of a disturbed 12 year old lad who’s bullied; the wintry setting; the uncanny representation of the vampire Eli. The first time she appears, dressed for indoors but outside in the freezing cold, director Tomas Alfredson manages to make her look normal and spooky.
Much of the film is a teen pic, focusing on the difficult ‘coming of age’ of Oskar however, on a few occasions the vampire movie erupts onto the screen; particularly in its hallucinatory finale. It is a film that lives with you for several hours afterwards.