Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In transports vampire legend to the realm of tween romance, melding genres with a haunting poignancy that’s mildly undercut by a script that, during its last act, bounces around like a jeep on a dirt road. Alfredson doesn’t shy away from supernatural lore (sunlight and stakes to the heart are fatal, blood-suckers must be invited across thresholds) but his prime concern is the way that vampires’ undead condition leads to the same type of isolation and loneliness also felt by unpopular adolescents. Thus, when picked-on Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) meets gaunt 12-year-old vampire Eli (unnerving, doe-eyed Lina Leandersson) outside his dreary, snow-coated apartment complex, their bond is immediate, born out of frustration, longing and hunger – hers for blood (which the mystery man with whom she lives attempts to acquire via the murder of innocents), and his for the power to combat a vicious school bully. Anderson’s chilly, pensive aesthetic exudes fairy tale melancholy, comprised equally of ethereal serenity and mundane realism, the latter of which extends to a group of grim adults whose fates are eventually intertwined with Eli’s. These peripheral characters serve basic narrative purposes (specifically, to create opportunities for carnage), yet while their presence expands the film’s portrait of frosty Nordic misery and alienation, it doesn’t do so in any appreciably affecting way. Ultimately, they’re just dull distractions from the central, disturbed romance whose main contribution is a bit of ridiculousness involving a horde of cats. Still, despite these needless narrative detours and a few indie-style affectations (most notably the assertively emotive score, which mucks up the otherwise eerie sound design), Let the Right One In has a gloomy poeticism wrought from arresting supernatural imagery – none more potent than an underwater shot during the public pool finale – as well as striking close-ups that give empathetic consideration to forlorn Oskar and Eli, two kids desperate for a warm, compassionate embrace in an environment frozen to the bone.