Vampires are back in vogue thanks to Twilight and True Blood, but the undead have never been more chilling and plausible than in this Swedish sleeper hit, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
Far from the aristocratic castles of Transylvania, in a grey, gritty, working-class suburb of Stockholm, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a young loner who is bullied at school, thinks he's met a kindred spirit when a new girl moves into his apartment block. But Eli (Lena Leandersson) is not all that she appears – she's not even, she keeps telling him, really a girl. Tomas Alfredson coaxes a pair of remarkable performances out of his child leads, though the supporting cast of adults deserve plaudits, too, in particular Per Ragnar, as Eli's loyal human companion, who spends his evenings collecting blood for her in monstruous fashion, but whose own tragedy becomes clearer as the plot progresses. That plot, meanwhile, regularly subverts the narrative expectations of a standard horror tale, tearing our sympathies between the unsuspecting victims of vampirism, and those who willingly become party to it. The final reel will leave you shocked, then elated, then deeply uneasy. Make sure to give yourself a few hours to recover afterwards. Special features are thin on the ground, but there's commentary from the director and the author, plus some deleted scenes.