Director: Tomas Alfredson
“At face value, this Swedish vampire film follows the trend of prudish predators: the vampire as your abstaining friend. Any languishing for sex is thoroughly suppressed. Of course, it helps that the protagonists – blond and angelic Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and the enigmatic Eli (Lina Leandersson) – are (or seem to be) children.” (917, Ernest Mathys, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) As seems to be the recent trend Eli is a conflicted vampire – she doesn’t want to attack people but she needs blood to survive. Her appearance as a 12 year-old child makes her seem all the more vulnerable. Her position takes a turn for the worse when her carer fails to acquire blood for her sparking the bloody events of the film.
“Throughout the film, pale white palettes abound, and punctured spots of red intervene in this snowy, sleepy and dreamy design.” (917) Let The Right One In has a very stark and somewhat bleak landscape, one added to by setting the film in the 1980s.
“The title refers to the fact that, according to folklore, vampires must be invited in by their victims.” (917) I watch (and read) a lot of things that feature vampires and no two are the same in their approach (the topic of one of my essays while at university), which is what, in part, keeps drawing me back to this subgenre of horror. Most, but not all, vampire stories abide by the rule that in order to enter a household a vampire must first be invited in. And this is true of Let The Right One In. Eli can physically enter Oskar’s flat without an invitation but her body actually begins exsanguination, only stopping when Oskar verbally invites her in. That scene is particularly bloody with blood seeping out of Eli’s eyes, nose, mouth, ears and pores. It’s very much the scene that stood out for me.
There is something ever so slightly wrong with Eli’s appearance. It’s not anything immediately noticeable, just a slight widening or enlarging of the eyes maybe, but it’s enough to give you the sense that something is off. These alterations become enhanced when Eli is trying to avoid the temptation of blood.
I’m intrigued to see the American remake, Let Me In (2010, Matt Reeves) as it came out not long after Let The Right One In and I’m always interested in the changes Hollywood makes. There is also a stage version playing in London’s West End at the moment but I can’t see how some aspects of the film would translate to the stage.
“Let The Right One In thus asks the uncomfortable question whether hospitality means that one has to accept the bad with the good. A pointed commentary on immigration, perhaps; an enchanting fairytale, for sure.” (917)