Vampire Movie Week: Let the Right One In

All Vampire Movie Week reviews and profiles will contain spoilers of the films.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Written by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson

Synopsis: Oskar is a lonely middle schooler with divorced parents. He is the target of bullies and collects articles about murders. Then he meets Eli, a girl more or less his age who moves in next door. The two become fast friends, bonding over the playscape and Rubik’s cube of childhood and the chocolates (that, well, she can’t enjoy, but she TRIES) and secret messages of early adolescent relationships. As they grow closer, Oskar grows more confident, joining the wrestling team, and finally standing up to the bullies, violently thwacking the leader with a stick and cutting off part of his ear. He gets in some trouble but the adults are distracted by the discovery of a dead body. See, earlier, Hakan, the man assumed by the community to be Eli’s father, dropped the body into the river after she’d sucked him dry. She’s the vampire in this vampire movie. But Oskar had said he’d still like her if she wasn’t a girl, and he does. He-who-is-not-really-Eli’s dad self-mutilates and then allows her to drink his blood. Lacke, the best friend of the murdered man, Jocke, pulls Eli off his girlfriend, Ginia, in time to save her from death but not undeath and she tricks a doctor into letting the sunlight kill her. So he goes after Eli but Oskar is there to warn her and he’s put out of his misery (the story was way hard on poor Lacke). Unfortunately, all these murders mean Eli has to leave town and she kisses Oskar goodbye and disappears in a cab. But when the bullies plot to exact revenge for Conny’s ear, she shows up to save him and exact her own vengeance. Oskar joins her in her escape, and we may infer he is taking up the role vacated by Hakan.

Review: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! That may be premature, we still have movies to watch, but this is absolutely the best vampire movie I have seen so far. Now, I love middle school romance and that’s what this actually is — a coming of age love story that happens to feature a vampire. It is violent, it is bloody, it is painful — basically, it is MIDDLE SCHOOL. The young actors do very well, the adults are almost an afterthought (I expect their roles are larger in the book). I don’t want to say too much more than I already have because I want everyone to go watch this movie. And now, before the remake is out (sigh Hollywood having to remake everything though Chloe Moretz in the vampire role IS a selling point for me). Here is my 1000 words:

Vampires: Again, I don’t want to say too much! But there are two vampire specifics that I must mention because are portrayed beautifully. SPOILERS! After Virginia is turned she is first attacked by cats (who know her for what she now is) and then in the hospital she asks the shades to be opened, knowing what will happen, she is still human enough to want to die. And she bursts suddenly into a stunning pillar of flames. It is so lovely and if I were ever to write a vampire story, I expect it would end with my protagonist burning.

And then there is what may be called the title scene. It is legend that vampires cannot enter unless invited. But WHY and WHAT could possibly stop them. Well, Oskar puts it to the test, getting Eli to come in without the invitation. And she starts to bleed, dying and in pain, right there before him. Suddenly distraught he says she is allowed in and it stops but it is a creepy and yet poignant scene between the two.

Fashion: It takes place in the seventies, which is a far, far better time period for style than the eighties and early nineties. One of the bullies has a leather jacket and scarf that will never not be cool. And I adore when Eli pulls on the red turtleneck she’s wearing in the above picture. It drops to just level with the bottom of her short shorts and it is a perfect expression of “tween” fashion.

Bottom Line: Go watch this movie!


One Comment on “Vampire Movie Week: Let the Right One In

  1. I saw Let the Right One In in theaters when it first came to the US. I loved it. I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies and read quite a few vampire novels, and Let the Right One In is the first original plot in the genre I’ve seen. So refreshing.


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